The Sound of David Daws13-Dec-2003
Accompanied by the Fairey FP (Music) Band
Conductor: Stephen Cobb
Egon Recordings: CD SFZ 117
Total Playing Time: 75.28
The Irish dramatist Hugh Leonard once said during an interview that "The problem with Ireland is that it's a country full of genius, but with absolutely no talent". The same of course can be said of any country – especially the UK which in particular has a tabloid culture that is forever pushing down our throats manufactured personalities from the world of pop music and sport that they describe as geniuses, when we all know damn well that they have only the modicum of even a passing talent at what they do.
The world of "Hello" magazine celebs, Pop Idol singers and Premiership footballers has left us weary of anyone who is now casually labelled "genius", let alone "gifted", "outstanding" or merely "skilled". True artists in whatever field now have to compete not only with gaining the respect of their peers, but also trying to convince the general public that the tabloid hyperbole that accompanies them is in fact the hard and clear truth.
When it comes to David Daws however, there is no doubt at all that we are hearing the real thing – a sublimely gifted artist of the rarest talent. He himself would possibly baulk at us calling him a genius (he is a very modest man indeed with a true sense of his own worth in the greater scheme of things), but compared to even the very best cornet players in any generation, he is a player that has few, if any equals. So what does that make him then?
What this fine CD release does confirm is that what we are hearing is the best cornet virtuoso of his generation, both from the Salvation Army and the general brass band world. That is no idle claim from 4BR either given that currently the likes of Roger Webster, Ian Porthouse, Richard Marshall and Alan Morrison to name but a few have all made deserved reputations for themselves. This man is a good head and shoulders above even these exceptional players of the instrument.
His modesty is of course linked to his own Christian beliefs, whilst his remarkable achievements are tempered by his own contribution to the Salvation Army and their mission through his performances with the Hendon Salvation Army Band and more famously with the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army – the position of Principal Cornet he held for close on ten years. During this time in particular his electrifying solo performances both in formal concerts and recordings marked him out as an unique talent.
This second solo CD release is long overdue then, and on this occasion he is accompanied by the current National Champions of Great Britain, the Fairey FP (Music) Band, who on this occasion are sympathetically and skilfully directed by Stephen Cobb. Just one small point though – this CD was recorded in June 2003, whilst the CD was released just prior to the 2003 National Finals at the Albert Hall. Call it good planning or possibly a stroke of fortune, but the picture of the band is titled "2003 Champions of Great Britain" - good job they won then!
There are 18 tracks for the listener to enjoy – a combination of classics as well as new and old repertoire from both the Salvation Army as well as the general banding world. It gives the soloist the opportunity to showcase his full array of immense talents – both musically and technically, and as expected, it is playing of the very, very highest class. Take the opening track for example.
"Czardas" is a great bravura solo, as difficult as they come. Here David Daws makes it sounds almost ridiculously easy – only great players can do this with the most difficult solos, but this is something else indeed. On first hearing it sounds perhaps a tad steady and controlled, but rewind and go through it again with a metronome and you will be flabbergasted. The clarity of technique is mind boggling – every note is as clean and shiny as if he was playing runs of crotchets, whilst his tone throughout the whole range of the instrument is beautifully pure and secure. It is one heck of a performance.
The same can also be said of all the other 17 tracks – the technical obstacles are overcome with a facility that is awesome, whilst his ability to craft beautifully shaped musical lines from even the most simple melodies harks of a gift few if any cornet players are blessed with. "Song of Exultation" "Wondrous Day" and "Reflections" are extended works that are performed in such a manner to leave you knowing that they are definitive performances, whilst the master craftsman delivers "Conquering Swing" - a medium not readily associated with too many Salvation Army cornet solos in a way that will have hardened jazz aficionados purring with delight. There is also the added bonus of a trio of legends of the cornet entitled "The Heralds" – David Daws being joined by Roger Webster (a great friend of the player, and one who he helped out so memorably at the Eric Ball Centenary Concert earlier this year) and Jim Shepherd – a hero of his. It is worth the price of the CD alone.
The other tracks are realised with a control of style and especially of tone that make them a sheer pleasure, even if some of them are lightweight items. Each is shaped with a care and respect, which also benefit from some super accompaniment from Fairey's who are on top class form. Stephen Cobb keeps them under a very tight rein throughout – detailed and balanced at all times, but giving them enough slack to sparkle just at the right moments. They add greatly to the enjoyment of this release.
All in all this is a super CD – a release of the highest quality. It is well to remember those words of Hugh Leonard the next time you are confronted by claims of genius from the likes of the papers or Sky Sports. All you have to do is turn the television off and throw the tabloid into the bin, turn on the CD players and listen to David Daws – the true meaning of what it is to have a very, very special talent will immediately sound in your ears.
What's on this CD?
1. Czardas, Monti, arr. Peter Graham, 5.54
2. Love's Old Sweet Song, Joseph Molloy, arr. Howard Snell, 4.00
3. In the Quiet Times, Terry Camsey, 3.06
4. Wondrous Day, Eric Leidzen, 6.29
5. Lord, with my All I Part, Iain Rayner, 3.23
6. Conquering Swing, Martyn Thomas, 3.37
7. A Time for Peace, Peter Graham, 3.51
8. O Little Town of Bethlehem, Robert Redhead, 3.37
9. Song of Exultation, Norman Bearcroft, 9.34
10. Before the Cross, Edward Gregson, 4.24
11. Reflections, Terry Camsey, 6.12
12. The Vicar of Dibley Psalm 23, Howard Goodall, arr Bram Wiggins, 3.02
13. The Heralds, Cornet Trio: David Daws, Roger Webster and Jim Shepherd,
Phil Catelinet, 3.23
14. Our Father, Gordon Camsey, arr. Iain Rayner, 2.41
15. Fill the World with Glory!, Andrew Wainwright, 3.00
16. A Little Star, Arr. Iain Rayner, 3.31
17. Hejre Kati, J. Hubay, arr. M. Freeh, 3.02
18. St. Theresa, Charles Skinner, 2.14
Total running time: 75.28
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BMus(Hons), Master of Arts, PhD in Ethnomusicology
Conductor, Performer, Teacher, Adjudicator, Musicologist, Composer, Journalist