Cedell Davis in 1982
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UPI) - The unorthodox guitar player with a Southern accent in his song and the bespectacled New Yorker with the clarinet at first seemed on opposite ends of the musical spectrum. But, when CeDell Davis and Robert Palmer mixed in a trumpet player from Pocohontas, Ark., the result was a perfect blend of back-country blues.
Who would have thought Davis, the blues guitarist, and Palmer, the pop music critic for the NeW York Times, could pull it off? "It's an exception to what a lot of other people do," Davis said, "but it works real good. We make it sound right." What sounds right to Davis is the blues. "I play blues and rhythm and blues and a little old-time rock," - he said.
"You know, stuff like Fats Domino used to do. I don't play hard rock. I just stick with the blues." They don't play a lot of blues in New York, so Palmer heads home to the South. The journalist-clarinetist took a vacation recently to return to Arkansas, visit his family and play a few club dates with Davis, whom he met a few years back in a small club in Clarksdale, Miss. Trumpeter Gary Gazaway, from Pocohontas, rounds out the trio.
Davis' mini-tour included a stop at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, the city where W.C. Handy, the father of Southern blues music, got the inspiration for his string of standards. Although blues musicians like B.B. King, Albert King and John Lee Hooker have been commercially successful, the notion lingers that genuine blues has been lost. "It had died down in the United States, but it was goin' good in Europe," Davis said. "Now It's picking up back here. I plan to work on it.