"This is a helluva tune -- 'As Long As I Live.' I'm 75 and I'm worried about that very thing," joke cornetist Wild Bill Davison, nearly solitary survivor of the Chicago Style originals. Yet he is still blowing with much the same fire and punch he has been noted for in 60-plus years as a world-traveling professional jazz musician. At the National Press Club yesterday in the second of a series the Washington Jazz Association showcased Davison with some of the D.C. area's finest.
Utilizing his repertoire of bent-out-of-shape notes, rasping growls and buzzing tags, Davison reached for high ones and got down on the low ones on upbeat stompers and bittersweet ballads.
In an afternoon characterized by variety of format and compatibility of performers, pianists John Malachi and Larry Eanet polished off solos, Jimmy McThail sang a moving "Danny Boy" and a bouncing "Marvellous"; Mason "Country" Thomas and Al Seibert duoed in classic '40s tenor style, and the leader paired off with lightening-swift trombonist Art Toncheri. Bassist Van Perry and drummer Eddie Phyfe held down the rhythm section with aplomb. And when the whole crew was up there "Struttin' With Some Barbeque," it was all hands on deck and hold onto your hats.