William Edward Davison (1906-1989) was an American trumpeter, and among the best of his kind. Louis Armstrong himself thanked him in his old age for bringing forward the very music to which Armstrong himself had vowed his whole life.
He had an ear for rhythm and music like no other. His sound is a demonstration of power, but never extortion. Rather, he is precise, athletically sharp and just a moment ahead of the beat, laid-back and superior. He wasn’t interested in sheet music or chords, but had an ear and a routine equal to few. For Davison, it was not a question of which playing style was in fashion: he was driven by a simple desire to create good music.
It wasn’t only his musical style that earned him his Wild Bill nickname. He loved partying and was known to drink like an entire band. He could be gruff and violent, tender and touching, generous or stingy. His fifth and last wife, Ann Stewart, put him under and administration and that diminished the number of female acquaintances and his consumption of boozed dwindled to a trickle. But how did this musician from the great USA turn up in Denmark, settle here and play so prolifically for five years? The story begins at the 1972 Newport Jazz Festival. Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband was on the program, and went backstage to say hello to musicians such as Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett among others. They invite Davison to Copenhagen, and he likes the city so much he decides to stay around. Ole “Fessor” Lindgreen recalls Wild Bill Davisons particular and powerful style: “I’ve played with many of the Americans, but I have to say I was always impressed by the punch there was in Wild Bill. No matter whether he was playing for forty people or four hundred, there was an enormous amount of power. If the concert was being recorded, the sound people always thought there was something wrong with the equipment – that’s how strong he played. The fact that later in the evening he drank himself stinking drunk didn’t matter so much… He was more serious with his music than you’d think, behind that smash-bang-pow façade. He practiced all the time. He said ‘I have the kind of chops that, if I don’t practice one day, it’s okay. Two days, problems. Three days, serious shit’”.
Wild Bill Davison lived the good life in Denmark for more than five years, between 1973 and 1978. He played countless gigs with Danish bands, especially Fessor’s Big City Band and Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband, and made trips to Argentina, Spain and Italy with Copenhagen as his base. The music in this box set focuses on his successful collaboration with the Danish bands, who are performing on a high level with deep, affectionate insight into the essence of jazz.