Billie Davies | 12 Volt

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12 Volt

by Billie Davies

The liner notes for her new album go into detail of what makes the jazz of this drummer stand out from the herd, but one sentence seems to sum it up: “Davies is not countering the modern jazz movement so much but rather stripping it down to its essence".
Genre: Jazz: Avant-Garde Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Collioure
7:30 album only
2. Meeting Manitas
7:32 album only
3. 12 Volt
7:38 album only
4. Les Landes
7:43 album only
5. Tango for Patti
10:03 album only
6. Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes
8:15 album only
7. Gypsy
6:29 album only
8. La Sieste
3:45 album only


Album Notes
Album Title: " 12 VOLT "
An ode to Manitas De Plata, Django Reinhardt and all Gypsies, Tsiganes, Gitans, Manouche and Bohemians all over the world.
All melodies conceived, given birth, directed by Billie Davies.

Billie Davies on Drums
Daniel Coffeng on Guitar
Adam Levy on Bass

Recording Studio: The Bedrock Room, at Bedrock L.A. in Echo Park.
Recording Engineer: Eric Rennaker
Recording & Sound Technology/Engineering Management: Mike Davies.
Mixing: Mike Davies, Billie Davies, Daniel Coffeng.
Mastering: John Vestman at Vestman Mastering in HD format.
Photography: Inez Lewis.

The whole idea for "12 VOLT" started as we were feeling ready to move away from Hollywood and wanted a return to nature and a little more simplicity. The home/studio in Napa seemed the perfect suited place for the "12 VOLT" conception, as it is wine country, as well as being very much similar to some of the Wine regions in France, especially the Bordeaux regions around the city of Bordeaux, bordering and into Basque country on the atlantic ocean side, where I also ended up living with the Gypsies...
From coast to coast in the south of Europe, from Perpignan to Barcelona, from Montpellier to Toulouse and to Biarritz and La Rochelle and then into the Bordeaux region, that is where I lived the most fulfilling bohemian life and performed and toured with all kinds of musicians, one in particular, Claude Mazet, an amazing blues and jazz guitar player made it so that everything electric in the RV ran on 12 volt, it is also that country where I ended up living for months with a gypsy clan and ended up having to play for their King's ears only over 2 bottles of wine and noone else allowed in his van, which stirred up a lot of envy and anger with some of the clan members and especially with his son, and it is that bohemian life I lived all over the south of Europe that all the songs on the album "12 VOLT" are inspired by, remembering my gypsy life I still love so so much, missing it and now living it again...

"12 VOLT" Tracks ...

01 - Collioure (Billie Davies)
[The light, that beautiful hazy light that makes everything look like watercolor and attracts every watercolor artist in Europe, just about on the border between France and Spain. The Pyrenee Mountains in the back, the mediterranean sea in front of you. Wonderful, warm sunny afternoons, cheap but good refrigerated red wine, a small village at the time, only a hop away from where Dali lived (...where I actually listened to silence) and where Absynth was still flowing in remote bars and clubs in the Pyrenee mountains of Spain on our way to Barcelona.]

02 - Meeting Manitas (Billie Davies)
The fierceness and pride of the independent gypsy... the melodrama, the passion, the love that exudes from the guitar and from the dancer's movements and expressions.
[In Montpellier, where I lived for about a year... the hand clapping of the young gypsies still sounds in my ears, I thought one of them said he was the son of Manitas Del Plata, little did I know they were to become The Gypsy Kings, surrounding my drums, inspired by Gypsy Flamengo music, in the streets, an american Violinist, Robin, joining in and... Don Cherry, or was it Lester Bowie?, and his band stopping to listen to us do a Jazz Flamengo improvisation... and later on invited to a wild party thrown by Manitas and his son... ah la vie de boheme...]

03 - 12 Volt (Billie Davies)
[With our guitar player, who made his own guitars and knew quite a bit about electricity, our entire home on wheels and everything in it ended up running on 12 volt, we played when we wanted, what we wanted, where we wanted, surrounded by fire eaters and acrobats at night in Toulouse, from Brubeck's Take Five, to Jobim's Girl from Ipanema, Corcovado and Santana's Samba Pa Ti... with sometimes hour long drum solos.]

04 - Les Landes (Billie Davies)
[It's a full Moon with a clear dark blue starry sky, we find ourselves in the middle of the woods in Basque country, alone, with the only sound being the music from crickets... and silence... (and suddenly the guitar player turns on the first song on Caravanserail by Carlos Santana...)]

05 - Tango for Patti (Billie Davies)
[We were all over the South of France and North of Spain, from the Camargue, the Pyrenees, Perpignan, Montpellier, Toulouse to Biaritz, La Rochelle, Bordeaux and St-Emilion country to Barcelona, Allicante, Figueras, Cadaques, and Dali's home. From the Catalans to the Basques and the Gauls and especially the Gypsies. We were all over, played all over, lived all over, we ate it and drank it, we slept it and woke up to it... We were free spirited bohemians and went wherever the wind was blowing... ]

06 - Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes (Billie Davies)
[... Rise with the Sunrise, Retire with the Sundown, Nature lived, Life harvested, it was time to get back, down and dirty with nature, and how perfect a situation it was, right there in the middle of Bordeaux country, at the border of a little farming village, living and working with the gypsies, picking grapes, plums and roma tomatoes...]

07 - Gypsy (Billie Davies)
[To live with the gypsies is a rare privilige that only few non gypsies will experience, work with them, eat with them around the fire, play Django for the King... play nature, life, passion, happiness, sadness, anger and dissapointment... love life, live with life, naturally]

08 - La Sieste (Billie Davies)
[Silent, hot, peaceful, sleepy afternoons, the smells of eucalyptus and lavender filling the air, sitting in the shade of an olive tree with a pastis or an espresso, too hot to be working, but a good time to take a nap as everything else is closed, a good time to practice sometimes with a whole van full of french police stopping at our site, opening their doors and ask whether it's ok to listen while we practice...]
Something Else! Reviews
Jazz — October 2, 2013 at 9:00 am
Billie Davies – 12 Volt (2013)
by S. Victor Aaron

The 23rd Annual L.A. Music Awards has recently nominated drummer and bandleader Davies as “Jazz Artist of the Year” for 2013, a mere four years after she set up shop in Los Angeles and made it her home. But this bohemian from Belgium has quickly made positive impressions everywhere she goes, including this reviewer when sizing up her third album all about Love a year ago.

For album #4 12 Volt, Davies assembled a new trio to go along with her new songs, in which she constructed around a concept of simplicity and being closer to nature. In this case, being closer to nature meant deconstructing jazz to its base components. The liner notes for Billie Davies’ upcoming album went into the detail of what makes the jazz of this drummer stand out from the herd, but one sentence seemed to sum it up nicely: “Davies is not countering the modern jazz movement so much but rather stripping it down to its essence.”

Moving on from the trumpet/bass/drums configuration of Love, Davies enlisted Amsterdam guitarist Daniel Coffeng and acoustic bassist Adam Levy to make this album live in the studio in a single day. That’s an approach that has fostered simplicity and natural playing. The airy, free flowing way these songs are played are like that, too. Take the opening cut, “Collioure,” an esoteric melody that moves at a naturally occurring cadence. Davis is making melody right alongside Coffeng, and Levy’s arco bass provides a well-defined harmonic counterpoint. The second part of song descends and ascends, Davies soloing while closely following Coffeng’s moves. With such attention to timbre, space and mood, it’s easy to forget that much of the music here and on the rest of the album is dissonant, because it’s avant-garde in a very embraceable way.

When listening to Davies play, it’s easier to think of her not as a drummer but a tonal painter who swipes brushstrokes with her drumsticks. “Collioure” is a prime example, and also in her subtly guiding ever so incremental changes in intonation on songs such as “Tango for Patti” as well as confidently leading the group through a deconstructed section within “Les Landes.” On angular blues such as “!2 Volt” and “Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes” she swings authoritatively without ever having to resort to brute force.

Coffeng employs the pillowy, sweet tones of Jim Hall, and as he demonstrates nifty single note run skills during a solo on “Gypsy.” But his economy of notes is perhaps his greatest asset for this session; it fits in fine with the “less is more” mantra Davies champions and allows her and Levy to be heard as equals. The songs generally follow the head-solos-head format, but the extended solo sections are allowed so much freedom, whole other songs are nearly created between the heads, as the group typically improvise as a unit.

It’s some honor for Billie Davies to be considered for the top jazz musician award in a big musical and cultural center such as Los Angeles, but that the institution pays close attention to the likes of her speaks well for their recognition of outlier talent. And 12 Volt can’t help but to strengthen Davies’ chances for winning it.
Jazz Music
Year: 2013

Style: Jazz

Label: Cobra Basement

Musicians: Billie Davies - drums; Daniel Coffeng - guitar; Adam Levy - bass

CD Review: On the first anniversary of her last CD release: The Billie Davies Trio - All About Love (Cobra Basement: 2012), 'lifelong natural musician' drummer Billie Davies has released another unimpeachable work: BILLIE DAVIES - 12 VOLT. Whereas, All About Love featured some of the music of venerated composers, including Victor Young, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Mongo Santamaria, 12 VOLT features exclusively original compositions of Billie Davies, revealing yet another formidable creative talent in Davies' impressive artistic arsenal; making this an important CD for Davies, since it adds the crucial tyne of 'composer/arranger' to her sterling artistic fork, augmenting fearless innovation, and superlative drumming technique.

For 12 VOLT, Davies employs again the trio setting, but with a significant change in players. On All About Love, Tom Bone Ralls appeared on trombone, and Oliver Steinberg played bass. Now guitarist Daniel Coffeng supplants Bone Ralls, and bassist Adam Levy takes the place of Steinberg. Davies describes 12 VOLT as an ode to Manitas De Plata, the renowned French-born gypsy guitar master, Django Reinhardt, considered the king of gypsy guitarists., and "all Gypsies, Tsiganes, Manouche and Bohemians all over the world," sure to stir wide appeal, and escalating excitement among her expanding music public.

In 12 VOLT, Davies' trio presents a collection of musical images of the world of the Gypsy in portraits of untouched natural beauty, as well as its untouchable rugged other side, seen in the fierce pride and passion of a forgotten, invisible people, and their way of living; heard in the inspiring Gypsy Flamenco music; felt in the fiery guitar, the dancers' movements and expressions; a mountain of vital culture that demands an odyssey to experience; and Davies went, with her 12-VOLT 'Band on the Run"; no APBs, like the McCartney & Wings 1973 model, but free-spirited bohemians that "... went everywhere the wind was blowing..." (Davies), like (Collioure) with its bewitching European artists' light captured in uncomplicated droplets of color from Daniel Coppeng's guitar, and the easy-listening resonance of Davies' polyrhythmic exchanges.

Davies' other signature contribution to the date, beyond drumming ability, and creative energy, is a remarkable facility to remain unhurried, not irrationally exuberant, but attentive to pristine artistic environments, so as not to provoke uneven corruption or distracting, grainy, biases in the fine textures, natural colors, and flowing sequences of sights and sounds she sees, hears and plays back with impeccable sonic balance, and an almost reverential cadence (Meeting Manitas).

Davies' selection of guitarist Daniel Coffeng, and bassist Adam Levy for this project is noteworthy in its astuteness. Coffeng brings extraordinary facility for transition and energetic flow to avant jazz improvisation (12 VOLT) with an extended, progressive, detailed solo, alternating between jazz and rock, but always clear and precise, like the sounds of crickets at night time. Coffeng's musical experience is deeply rooted in music cultures which reach into jazz, blues, soul, reggae, through to classical, rock, Eastern music, Latin American and West African music.

Adam Levy is a well prepared and accomplished upright bass player. His mom was "feeding him boogie woogie piano in their home at a very early age." He gets tons of experience from his brother, Mike, who Levy says is a prodigy on bass. Levy pursued a Jazz degree at the University of South Florida where he studied upright bass. He puts his bona fides in play with a superbly conversant passage depicting peacefulness and harmony, never bitter, (Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes) during exchanges with Davies' expressive drums, and Coffeng's descriptive guitar; reviving the intimate stories of Gypsies toiling in the fields; their loves, lives, prides and passions, against the unending rhythmic drumbeat of moving hands and feet. These two talented players bring to the date, a collective of experience that compliments, and fuels Davies' dauntless search for fertile creative ground to express the varied, but complex experiences unique to her posit as the cutting-edge artist in Neo-Humanistic Expressionist Jazz (Les Landes; Tango for Patti).

But Gypsies can swing too (Gypsy), because Django, "The King" taught them how. They listened, and never forgot. Now sadness, anger, and disappointment are anathema to them: Davies' vivid drumming, Coffeng's uplifting guitar, and Levy's unassailable bass notes, all say so in the precise rhythmic footprints that revisit musical paths Davies traveled while living, and loving the gypsy life all over the South of Europe; footprints now leading toward exciting, unexplored, far-reaching musical frontier space for her muse to continue that restless, relentless quest to create and give musical ears and voice to what is not there...yet!

Track Listing: Collioure; Meeting Manitas; 12 Volt; Les Landes; Tango for Patti; Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes; Gypsy; La Sieste.

Recorded at The Bedrock Room at Bedrock L. A. in Echo Park
Recording Engineer: Eric Rennaker
Recording & Sound Technology/Engineering Management: Mike Davies
Mixing: Mike Davies, Billie Davies, Daniel Coffeng
Mastering: John Vestman at Vestman Mastering in HD format
All Photos by Inez Lewis

By C.J. Bond for Jazz Music.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Billie Davies 12 VOLT 2013

The organic essence of improvisational music. The evocative manipulation of sound and silence into a living breathing microcosm of emotion and spontaneous creativity.
Brent Black /

Melodic minimalism...12 Volt is improvisational music stripped down to a bare bones approach of lyrical passion and purpose. Billie Davies is more than a drummer as she possesses compositional skills that have 12 Volt as engaging as perhaps any trio based ensemble working today. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of 12 Volt is that it is a live studio recording. Live studio recordings can be magic or they can be a train wreck.

Strictly as an instrumentalist Billie Davies is one of the more lyrically based drummers in the style of a Max Roach and her work is quickly gaining attention as she was nominated as "Jazz Artist" of the year 2013 by the 23rd annual L.A. Music Awards...The other ensemble members include guitarist Daniel Coffeng and bassist Adam Levy and the collective synergy here is an open ended warmth that seems to radiate from whatever devise you may be using to enjoy this stellar recording. There is a haunting zen like quality here, no notes are wasted while the expressionistic quality embraces a Bohemian like vibe more closely with improvisational music recorded some fifty years previous.

This is a conceptual recording. The stroke of genius here is that the concept is that of abstract nothingness. Musical methodology that is strictly in the moment. Creativity that is unbridled, unchecked and not bound by preconceived notions of what something "should" sound like. Artistic comparisons are inherently unfair. Billie Davies compositions sound like Billie Davies. Daniel Coffeng is an incredibly engaging guitarist in the tradition of perhaps a John Abercrombie. Bassist Adam Levy is the soul pumpkin laying down a bass line reminiscent of a Ron Carter. All three artists are uniquely different but the harmonic exploratory conceived here is performed with a deceptively subtle uniformity while remaining abstract enough to attack the listener on a cerebral front. The perfect marriage of simplicity and complexity.

Tracks: Collioure; Meeting Manitas; 12 Volt; Les Landes; Tango For Patti; Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes; Gypsy; La Sieste.

Personnel: Billie Davies: Drums; Daniel Coffeng: Guitar; Adam Levy: Bass

By Brent Black



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