In too many music genres, the standup bass is basically a time keeping, "thump-thump" instrument. In the hands of truly great jazz bassists like the late Ray Brown, Leroy Vinegar, Ron Carter or Charley Hayden (as well as talented locals like Michael Scott and John Allen), it is an instrument of great range, depth and feeling.
In the hands of Kate Davis, the bass is an instrument of force. Davis is a compelling player with great range and incredible technique for someone so young.
That's young as in 19. That's young as in age, but not in talent.
Ms. Davis took the stage at the Cascades Theatrical Company this past Saturday night as part of the Just Joe's jazz concert series. Accompanied by Portland musicians David Goldblatt on piano and Gary Hobbs on drums, both accomplished musicians in their own right, she delivered a knockout performance.
Davis not only plays the bass like someone twice her age and with four times the experience, she also sings. Her vocal phrasing harkens back to the great women jazz singers of the fifties like June Christy, Chris Conner and Anita O'Day.
Her vocalizing is clear as a bell and she hit the notes spot on all evening.
That noted, most of the lyrics of the songs she's selected from the Great American Songbook and jazz repertoires have to be a bit over her head. Hey, she's 19 and that's her dad selling CDs at intermission and her mom encouraging her from the audience. But age again doesn't matter. Close your eyes and you hear the voice of a mature woman not a young woman in a summer dress and black high heels.
Davis is a marvel, truly a once-in-a-lifetime player and singer. And when she gets her stage presence persona worked out (it's a bit awkward now), look out.