Wild Bill Davison

Wild’ Bill Davison, born January 5, 1906 in Defiance, Ohio, and died November 14, 1989 in Santa Barbara, California. He was a fiery jazz musician who first emerged in 1920s but wasn’t recognized until the 1940s. His association with Eddie Condon, the bandleader with whom he recorded and worked from the 1960s to the mid-1940s, is what he is most remembered. Wild Bill was born in Defiance, Ohio, in 1906. He had a strong, but limited, style on his cornet. A fan of Wild Bill’s playing, Philip Larkin described it as “…a player with notable energy. He uses a wide variety of conscious tonal distortions and heavy vibrato. His attack is fast and intense. He melts, almost articulates at slow tempos. Humphrey Lyttelton compared him to a drunk who tries to put you down one minute and then throws his arm around your neck the next. His stylistic mannerisms – the deep hoarse blurrings and the athletic in front-of-the beat timing, the flaring shakes – are highly conscious. “Davison is one of the most exciting small-band trumpeters, as they were imposed on a traditional Armstrong basis. Blue Note sessions were a collision of two ferocious jazz talents that at the same moment were strangely sympathetic. His many sides in Condon tradition demonstrate his ability to unite with (Pee Wee Russell) in the same manner. Solo after solo, he proves that he’s not a wild player. Each note is precisely shaped and pitched, just like his favorite (Louis) Armstrong or (Bobby) Hackett) and has an emotional immediacy that is hard to match. Richard M. Sudhalter recalled first meeting Wild Bill at Eddie Condon’s Club in New York City, in the 1950s. “Up there, incredible, is Bill Davison, looking like any *but* the traditional image of a trumpet or cornet player. Louis Armstrong’s horn is not angled up with his eyes closed as the tone rises; Maxie Kaminsky’s instrument feels so small that it seems almost incomprehensible. Bix Beiderbecke is not like that, with his dented cornet pointed straight at the floor in an old photo. “Nope. “Nope. He reaches for the cornet and spits out a supercharged sentence. Then he jerks it away like it’s too hot. He’s actually chewing gum! I wonder where he keeps that stuff while he blows. He looked exactly the way he sounded. A guy from Ohio, Defiance, with an uninhibited, fierce way of beating the beat and driving a band of any size half a mile into the future. The music sounds like a flamethrower but has a density and momentum that is only possible with the best records. User-contributed text may also be available under Creative Commons By–SA License.

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