Thursday, August 5, 2010
The album If was released on Nathan Davis’s tiny bespoke Tomorrow International record label in 1976 and only 1000 copies were ever pressed. Davis leads his super-funky group along the narrow path between jazz and funk that so many failed to navigate successfully in the second-half of the 1970s. It’s an album by an artist who is a musician’s musician. More importantly - it’s a killer LP.
Nathan Davis’s career has made him a connoisseur’s favourite and his records are all extremely collectable. In the 1960s Davis was drafted into the US army, and was based in Germany and France (working with everyone from Art Blakey to Donald Byrd and Ray Charles). Davis also worked as musical director of a TV and radio station, wrote film scores, studied anthropology at the Sorbonne and released a number of important records.
He returned to the US at the end of the 60s and continued to release a number of amazing jazz records – all of which have now been long out of print. His avoidance of the major record industry, working instead with various small independent labels with limited distribution has made all his releases very collectible. But have no doubt; Davis is one of the most important jazz artists of his time with a 50-year career span that continues to this day.
The early Tomorrow International releases, especially If, have become serious collector’s items, as indeed have most of Nathan Davis’s catalogue of recordings. Today, more people want these records than when they were first made and demand outstrips supply. Those who own Nathan Davis albums don’t sell them - and none more so than If.