Walter Davis Vol 7 1946 – 1952
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From this Cd’s booklet notes:
There are few, if any, blues singers who recorded as much as Walter Davis did who were so consistently strong in there performances. Drop the metaphorical needle on to any track on any of the seven volumes on the Document label, covering his recording career and the chances are that you will find a performance that is not only immensely deep and touching, but that is marvellously self-contained – a brilliant, profound statement of the blues in two to three minutes. His accompaniments are comparatively – deceptively – simple, but he makes each note carry a weight of power and emotion, and his vocals echo this with their remarkably eloquent evocations of alienation and loss. By 1946, which is where this, the final volume of the Walter Davis recorded body of work starts, Davis had just come through a long dry spell, having been out of the studio since the end of 1941. And, since he would now be active only sporadically up until his final session in 1952, this volume documents what was to become very much the twilight of his recording career providing some of the finest of his recorded performances.
In the post-war years, Davis recorded again. Two short sessions for Victor sandwich a great series of recordings for the Nashville-based Bullet label, committing to the blues history a marathon session characteristic of the young, prolific artist of a decade previous. Here Henry Townsend plays electric guitar, and the two men mesh together beautifully. That Davis could still come up with so productive a session suggests that, rather than having ‘burned out’. Davis was more likely a victim of neglect by this stage.
Extraordinarily, at his very last session, in 1952, he made what could be his finest recording of all – the stunning Tears Came Roiling Down, a favourite amongst blues collectors, with its iterative, rolling accompaniment underlining the utter despair of the vocals.
Certainly, the instrumentation in these last sessions was more varied and imaginative than in his earlier work, Davis now recording with drums, tenor saxophone, and bass in varying combinations, along with the ever faithful Henry Townsend on guitar. Bearing in mind several accounts of Davis’s extensive touring throughout the south in the Thirties with saxophone, guitar and drums, it may well be that these last sessions are more representative of the way Walter Davis actually sounded ‘live’ in his heyday than the recordings he was making at the time.
It is perhaps fitting that Davis’s last session was recorded in his adopted home base of St. Louis, the only time he was to record in the city that had been the scene of his emergence as Roosevelt Sykes’s teenage protégé, too raw and unformed to confidently provide his own piano accompaniment but possessed of a lyric imagination, a singular conception, and a will to make his own highly original mark on the world.