Tom Davis – flying without a parachute

Posted by Dick Playfair on Aug 6, 2014

Tom Davis is the consummate musician, a musician’s musician. A risk taker, Tom bares his soul for his art, and this first of two performances at The Jazz Bar as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was such proof of that.

Tom Davis and Jay Kilbride

Billed as The Tom Davis International Trio, with Davide Rinaldi on drums and Jay Kilbride on bass (Ed Kelly is on bass for the second show), this line-up leaves absolutely no place to hide, no room for ‘fudge’. What is amazing is that such a tight act can come across so relaxed, so at ease, so intent on expression through the music that the performance just flows, effortlessly.

Tom featured songs from his aptly named album Home. Home for Tom and his wife Lauren had until just after Christmas been Edinburgh for a number of years, but the vicissitudes and inflexibilities of the system meant that they had to up sticks and move back to Columbus, Ohio, their other home town. Tom, now back in Edinburgh for a busy Fringe programme of gigs both of his own material and with Ali Affleck’s Vieux Carré and others, is a musician in demand. As he explained, home is where you happen to be, maybe. Home is also possibly where the much loved and much missed cats Gummy and Kagome are, both of whom are celebrated in Tom’s tunes.

So, this was risk taking in front of a discerning and appreciative audience – a Jazz Bar two thirds full – a good turn-out. The set, getting on for 90 minutes, comprised all Davis compositions, some written a while back and revisited and one written that week. They included among others Kenny, Ken for starters, an upbeat tribute to Kenny Burrell, the quaintly named Aye Love, I, ballads Bluebird and I Can’t Remember and the finishing blues One for BG.

All were delivered with such finesse that the audience stopped applauding solos in deference probably to the quality of the musicianship. Rinaldi, who received writing credits on some of the numbers, was solid throughout, flourishes where necessary, a lot of playful samba/bossa (for the cats?) where appropriate but equally brushing through the ballads showing that he can deliver understatement as well as that Milanese flair. Jay Kilbride, with a lot to do on bass as the second solo instrument, delivered fabulous expressive contrast to Tom’s guitar, smooth, warm and melodic one minute; punchy and abrasive the next – like a sparring boxer.

Tom on guitar was Tom – suave, dexterous, totally in control. For me his solo ballad Elaine was the highpoint among many – beautiful, undoubtedly heartfelt, emotionally charged, “for someone who I used to know, but who is no longer with us.” (Apologies TD if I have misquoted you).

Tom flies without a parachute because he is that good that he can. How foolish can the UK be sending such amazing talent home? The loss is ours.

Tom Davis’s album Home is now available, and is an absolute joy. Visit