Tenor saxophonist Charles Davis and pianist Jack Wilson, seasoned musicians whose careers have touched many of the same bases, performed last night at the One Step Down with a rapport that was as stunning as it was uncontrived.
Working with some originals, at least one of which was jointly composed, and some standards, the two exhibited shared characteristics. Both are melodically inventive and harmonically adventurous. And both poured forth ideas that often came so fast that spaces were few and rests nearly unheard of. As if all that didn't make for a lively enough opening set, the foursome was filled out by the able and big-toned bass of Ed Howard and the polished drumming of D.C.'s Steve Williams.
Davis often favored the thinner upper ranges of his horn, treating the instrument almost as an alto at times, but he also dipped into its lower half for a big husky tone worthy of Coleman Hawkins. His melodic embellishment of ballads made of them fresh statements of love.
Wilson's extended solo on the set closing "Stitt's It" was a tour de force compendium of large hunks of the jazz piano tradition and it swung with great swagger.
The quartet returns tonight.