Drew Davidsen

 

After a smash smooth jazz hit single and an inspiring collection of holiday tunes, American Smooth Jazz Award-nominated guitarist Drew Davidsen returns with an infectious CD that gathers all of his musical talents. Spin Cycle (Creative Soul Jazz), released on Feb. 22, 2011, and available on www.drewdavidsen.com, CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.com, is true to its title: 10 original songs of contemporary jazz that are as fresh as any you are going to hear this year.

Davidsen, also nominated as Best New Artist by the Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards in 2011, says Spin Cycle is inspired by the great sounds of artists and groups like Acoustic Alchemy, Steve Lukather and George Benson, and mixes cool-jazz guitar lines with pop, funk, blues, Latin and even some disco. Recorded in Franklin, Tennessee, Spin Cycle is produced by Creative Soul Jazz's Eric Copeland and mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Bill Whittington.

The list of top-quality musicians joining Davidsen on the project includes Copeland, Jay Rowe of legendary jazz group Special EFX, as well as John Hammond, Gary Lunn, and Brian Fullen from Creative Soul's new Nashville Session Player Jazz Super Group called Player A.

Spin Cycle opens with the title track, a propelling tune that showcases Davidsen's fluid style on the frets. "Don't Delay," a lively piece that recalls the best contemporary jazz from the 1970's, features Davidsen's bluesy guitar lines and an unrestrained, killer keyboard-synth solo. Davidsen has a modern touch with mid-tempo tunes as well, which he displays in "Alexander's Dream" and "Cosmopolitan." Davidsen is not afraid to show his playfulness with "My Club Side," a downright fun song with disco strings and disco percussion. Even if you didn't get down to disco back in day, you'll find much to like with the tune. Two ballads show the quieter side of Davidsen: "Catalina Blue" showcases his skill on the acoustic guitar in a tribute to the sweet sounds of the guitar duo of Acoustic Alchemy; and "My Father's World," a rework of the classic hymn, is stripped down to the essentials-guitar and keys. It's a heartfelt piece and a memorable way to conclude the CD.

It was in 2009 that Davidsen announced his presence on the smooth jazz charts with "Astro," a song from his second solo CD, Around (Again) (Creative Soul Jazz). The song, with its bright melodies and sweeping guitar lines, logged an impressive 17 weeks on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown, a chart compiled by Broadcast Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network. Davidsen wrote "Astro" in memory of his father, Dr. Arthur F. Davidsen, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University who built and designed the NASA-funded Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT). The popular song - which JazzTimes called "a rollicking tune with a bouncy optimism" - is one reason why Davidsen picked up his Best New Artist nomination from the 2010 American Smooth Jazz Awards.

Davidsen, who debuted in 2008 with This Journey, followed Around Again in 2010 with We 3 Stringz, a Christmas CD featuring heavyweights like Chuck Loeb and Paul Jackson, Jr., as well as a host of Nashville session players.

For all his recent success and national exposure, Davidsen came relatively late to the guitar. He dabbled in guitar as a youngster, but studied cello and went on to play bass in high school. He was 21 when he started taking the electric guitar seriously. Davidsen's musical epiphany occurred when he was in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. When his ship docked in the Persian Gulf island country of Bahrain, Davidsen purchased an electric guitar and a small amp. His musical direction was due in part to jazz guitar icon George Benson. He recalls that a friend turned him on to Benson's Breezin', the huge crossover album that almost single-handedly helped create the smooth-contemporary jazz genre. Davidsen, an underwater weapons technician on the destroyer USS John Hancock, would put Benson's music in his cassette player and cut his teeth while transcribing solos. "What an incredible player," says Davidsen, who was also inspired to scat while listening to Benson. He soon drew crowds on board the Hancock who would turn out regularly to hear him play.

Davidsen's musical background includes a pop trio, ska band and an R&B group. In 1995, he joined Baltimore's Richard Walton Group - a contemporary jazz quintet - and was a member for 12 years. The band released a live CD recorded at the famed Blues Alley in Washington, DC. During his career, Davidsen has lent his skills to almost 30 recording projects. In 2008, he won the Momentum Award for Jazz Artist of the Year given by Indie Heaven, a Christian-music organization in Nashville. Shortly after that, Guitar Player Magazine named him one of its "ten hottest new guitarists."

When not working on music, Davidsen relaxes by fishing. He's also an avid bicyclist, and one year participated in the MS 150, riding over 100 miles to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was biking that helped Davidsen achieve one of what he calls his greatest accomplishments - losing about 60 pounds and gaining stamina for his live shows, which have included the prestigious Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival in Southern California and Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Davidsen regularly gives back to the community. He supports the charity Ghanaian Mothers' Hope, which builds schools, playgrounds and medical clinics in Ghana, West Africa. A percentage of his music sales goes toward this organization. Over the years his efforts have provided for desks and school books, medicines and medical equipment and sponsoring of children in a preschool and primary school in the village of Akramaman. For more information, go to www.gmhope.org.
 

 

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