Over the course of four albums, Drew Davidsen meticulously developed his technical proficiency, carefully honed his guitar voice and cultivated a fan base via radio favorites like “Astro” and dynamic concert performances. With “TRUE DREW,” his fifth and most vividly-realized album to date, he has recorded the collection that promises to propel him in his mission to join the galaxy of contemporary jazz guitar greats.
Named by Guitar Player magazine as one of the 10 Hottest New Guitarists, Davidsen uses improvisation as the foundation on which he constructs a modern mélange of contemporary jazz sheen, funky R&B grooves, soulful blues-rock riffs and gospel inflections.
Sporadically playing guitar as a child, Davidsen focused on the cello and bass. He bought a cheap guitar and taught himself to play by emulating blues legends while in the Navy and deployed in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Discovering George Benson’s ‘Breezin’’ album proved to be a seminal moment. After military service, Davidsen returned to Maryland where he was born, raised and still resides. He taught music to preschoolers and joined the Richard Walton Group playing a mix of originals and covers in Baltimore and DC-area clubs for a decade.
Davidsen’s solo debut, “This Journey,” was released in 2008. Teaming with Eric Copeland in 2009, his sophomore set, “Around (Again),” spawned the radio hit inspired by his father, “Astro,” which garnered the guitarist a Best New Artist nomination from the American Smooth Jazz Awards. He returned the following year with a Christmas project, “We 3 Stringz,” featuring fellow contemporary jazz guitarists Chuck Loeb and Paul Jackson Jr. Album number four, “Spin Cycle,” followed in 2011.
Davidsen wrote or collaborated on seven songs for “TRUE DREW,” which was recorded in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville with producers Preston Glass, Norman Connors and Copeland. The set launches with the rocketing guitar and soaring vocal hook on “My Guitar,” a joyous love song between man and guitar. Davidsen shines on electric and nylon-stringed guitars on the driving “95 South,” but the fire blazes brightest from the nylon vehicle. Radio’s intro to the album comes in the form of “Hi5,” a cool-toned electric guitar joint textured with Latin piano and clubby electronic swatches of synth. Keyboardist Bob Baldwin makes the sunny “Double or Nothin’” a sure thing. Alvin Fisher’s delightful flute flourishes contribute quixotic qualities to Davidsen’s elegant electric guitar exploration, “All Night and Forever.” “Sweet Spot” revels in a 1980s retro-styled setting from which Eric Marienthal blows a sweltering sax solo to which Davidsen issues a blistering electric guitar reply. The Temptations’ Ron Tyson unfurls soulful vocalizations although it’s Davidsen’s nimble nylon guitar that eloquently pleas on “I’m Into You.” The guitarist scats on the frenetic “Do Right” emulating Benson. Davidsen’s electric guitar moonwalks head over heels in love on “I Can’t Help It,” a cut made famous by Michael Jackson. Doing Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” is more of an acknowledgement of Davidsen’s philosophy of being of service daily than saluting the guitar god although both are accomplished with a noteworthy assist from bassist Gerald Veasley. Alternately strumming and picking an acoustic guitar, an introspective Davidsen sorts through his thoughts on the hymn “All Creatures.” Keyboardist Bobby Lyle helps put a romantic ribbon on the collection with the urban-jazz overture “Give Me Your Heart.”
“TRUE DREW” is autobiographical, an introspective glimpse inside the man who sees life through his guitar and sets what he sees to music. Davidsen’s compelling story shall continue to entertain with each musical statement uttered using the voice of his guitar.