b. April 30th, 1896 in Laurens (South Carolina)

d. May 5th, 1972 in Hammonton (New Jersey)

COMPLETE EARLY RECORDINGS

Yazoo

July 1935 / 1949

MEET YOU AT THE STATION

Document

July 1935 / 1945 / 1949

Fils de John et d'Evelina, il est élevé par sa grand-mère à Greenville. Devenu aveugle durant son enfance, Gary apprend la guitare et développe un style unique et virtuose en fingerpicking. Rapidement, il est capable de jouer Ragtime, Blues et Gospel. En 1911, il devient membre du string-band de Willie Walker. Vers 1926, il s'installe à Durham (Caroline du Nord) et est fréquemment associé à d'autres musiciens de la région comme Sonny Terry, "Blind Boy" Fuller ou "Bull City" Red. Grâce à John Baxter Long - gérant d'un magasin de disques - Gary peut graver ses premiers morceaux pour ARC (American Recording Company) en juillet 1935. Deux ans plus tard, il est ordonné pasteur baptiste et délaisse son début de carrière. Remarié en décembre 1943 à Annie Mae "Mother" Wright, il s'installe à New York en janvier 1944 où il résidera toute sa vie. Dix ans après ses premiers morceaux, Gary grave quelques titres pour Asch puis pour Lenox. En 1951, il dicte ses mémoires à Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold (la femme d'Alan Lomax) qui les retranscrit sur un manuscrit de 300 pages. Cette première oeuvre recèle de superbes réussites comme "Twelve gates to the city" et installe un style déjà bien en place : voix puissante et véhémente, jeu de guitare en fingerpicking habile et fluide.

Son of John and Evelina, he was raised by his grandmother in Greenville. Became blind as a child, Gary learns the guitar and developed a unique and virtuoso fingerpicking style. Quickly, he is able to play Ragtime, Blues and Gospel. In 1911, he joined the Willie Walker's string band. Around 1926, he moved to Durham (North Carolina) and is frequently associated with other local musicians like Sonny Terry, "Blind Boy" Fuller or "Bull City" Red. Thanks to John Baxter Long - manager of a record store - Gary can write his first cuts for ARC (American Recording Company) in july 1935. Two years later, he was ordained Baptist minister and abandoned his early career. Remarried in december 1943 to Annie Mae "Mother" Wright, he moved to New York in january 1944 where he lived all his life. Ten years after his first tracks, Gary records some titles for Asch and Lenox. In 1951, he dictated his memoirs to Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold (the wife of Alan Lomax) who transcribes a manuscript of 300 pages. This first work holds great achievements like "Twelve gates to the city" and installs a style already in place : powerful and vehement voice, fluid and skilful fingerpicking guitar style.

MUSIC IN THE STREETS

Folkways

1950

JOHN COHEN'S 1952 WIRE RECORDINGS

Field Recorders' Collective

1952

IF I HAD MY WAY : EARLY HOME RECORDINGS

Smithsonian - Folkways

1953

Ces enregistrements furent captés par John Cohen pour Folkways au domicile de Gary Davis au début de l'année 1953. La qualité sonore est excellente et permet de se rendre compte de la virtuosité de Gary Davis et de son immense répertoire. Parmi les titres les plus notables : "If I had my way", "Twelve gates to the city", "You got to move", "There's destruction in this land", "I belong to the band".

These recordings were captured by John Cohen for Folkways at Gary Davis' home at the beginning of the year 1953. The sound quality is excellent and renders perfectly his virtuosity and his vast repertoire. Among the most notable titles : "If I had my way", "Twelve gates to the city", "You got to move", "There's destruction in this land", "I belong to the band".

THE SUN OF OUR LIFE

World Arbiter

1955 - 1957

D'après la Blues Discography, ces bandes furent prises aux domiciles de Gary Davis et de "Tiny" Robinson. On trouve beaucoup d'instrumentaux, un sermon de vingt minutes et plusieurs pièces religieuses. Un recueil intéressant mais à ne conseiller qu'à un amateur confirmé.

According to the Blues Discography, these tapes were taken to the homes of Gary Davis and "Tiny" Robinson. There are a lot of instrumentals, a twenty minute sermon and several religious pieces. An interesting collection but advisable to confirmed fans.

LIFTING THE VEIL

World Arbiter

1955 - 1957

AMERICAN STREET SONGS

Riverside

GOSPEL SONGS AND STREET SONGS

Riverside

January 1956

Ce microsillon réalisé pour Riverside lui apportera un peu de visibilité. Il a vu le jour grâce à Kenneth Goldstein. Au meilleur de ses capacités - chant fervent et guitare sophistiquée - Gary Davis y interprète quelques uns de ses standards comme "Samson and Delilah", "Twelve gates to the city", "Keep your lamp trimmed and burning". Le disque est partagé avec des morceaux de Pink Anderson.

This LP realized for Riverside bring him some visibility. It was born thanks to Kenneth Goldstein. At the best of his abilities - fervent singing and sophisticated guitar - Gary Davis interprets some of his standards as "Samson and Delilah", "Twelve gates to the city", "Keep your lamp trimmed and burning". The disc is shared with tracks of Pink Anderson.

THE SINGING REVEREND

Stinson

Collectables

1956

La virtuosité du Reverend Gary Davis à la guitare est ici un peu en retrait. Sonny Terry est effectivement plus en vue lors de ces séances pour Stinson. Mais, l'association reste plutôt intéressante et mérite l'attention. Gary interprète son répertoire habituel entre Gospel et Blues : "Say no to the devil", "I can't make this journey by myself", "You got to move". Les deux hommes chantent ensemble sur "Motherless children".

Here, Reverend Gary Davis' guitar virtuosity is a little behind. Sonny Terry is actually more prominent in those sessions for Stinson. But, the association is rather interesting and deserves attention. Gary plays his usual repertoire between Gospel and Blues : "Say no to the devil", "I can't make this journey by myself", "You got to move". The two men sing together on "Motherless children".

PURE RELIGION AND BAD COMPANY

Folk-Lyric

77

Smithsonian - Folkways

June 1957

Enregistré par Fred Gerlach et "Tiny" Robinson, produit par Manuel "Manny" Greenhill, Gary Davis y mélange avec beaucoup de goût et de talent, thèmes sacrés et airs folkloriques : "Pure religion", "Buck dance", "Candy man", "Runnin' to the judgment", "Hesitation blues", "Bad company". Le LP original a été publié par Folk-Lyric (un label fondé par Harry Oster) puis réédité sur 77 Records (dirigé par Dave Dobell). Avec l'édition CD de 1991, deux titres ont été ajoutés. Au sommet de ses possibilités, Gary propose ici un de ses disques les plus aboutis.

Recorded by Fred Gerlach and "Tiny" Robinson, produced by Manuel "Manny" Greenhill, Gary Davis blend with taste and talent sacred themes and folk tunes : "Pure religion", "Buck dance", "Candy man," "Runnin' to the judgment", "Hesitation blues", "Bad company". The original LP was released by Folk-Lyric (a label founded by Harry Oster) and reissued on 77 Records (run by Dave Dobell). With the 1991 CD edition, two titles were added. At the top of his possibilities, Gary offers here one of his the most achieved album.

DEMONS AND ANGELS

Shanachie

1958 - 1959 / 1962 - 1966

Assemblé par Stefan Grossman - qui fut l'étudiant du Reverend Gary Davis - ce triple CD reprend des titres enregistrés à la Columbia University par John Gibson en 1958-59, à son domicile entre 1964 et 1966, enfin des performances scéniques captées entre 1962 et 1966. L'ensemble - bien que forcément inégal - procure un excellent panorama de l'oeuvre de Gary Davis. Dans ces trois heures de musique entre Folk, Blues et Gospel, on peut retenir plusieurs moments mémorables : "Twelve sticks", "I am the light of this world", "Don't know where to go", "Keep your lamp trimmed and burning". Dans le second disque, on trouve "I am the true vine", les spirituals "Soon my work will all be done" et "There's destruction in this land", les instrumentaux "Sportin' life blues" et "Bill Bailey". Le troisième CD consacré aux prestations scéniques me semble un peu moins dense que les deux autres. Un livret informatif illustré de plusieurs photographies est inclus dans cet excellent coffret.

Compiled by Stefan Grossman - who was the student of Reverend Gary Davis - this triple CD contains tracks recorded at Columbia University in 1958-59 by John Gibson, at his home between 1964 and 1966, and finally live performances captured between 1962 and 1966. The set - although necessarily uneven - provides an excellent overview of the work of Gary Davis. In these three hours of music between Folk, Blues and Gospel, we can point out several memorable moments : "Twelve sticks", "I am the light of this world", "Don't know where to go", "Keep your lamp trimmed and burning". In the second disc, we find "I am the true vine", spirituals "Soon my work will all be done" and "There's destruction in this land", the instrumental "Sportin' life blues" and "Bill Bailey". The third CD dedicated to live performances seems a little less dense than the other two. An informative booklet illustrated with several photographs is included in this excellent box-set.

LO' I BE WITH YOU ALWAYS

Kicking Mule

1959 / 1962 / February 1963 / 1968

HARLEM STREET SINGER

Prestige - Bluesville

Fontana

PURE RELIGION

Prestige - Bluesville

WHEN I DIE I'LL LIVE AGAIN

Fantasy

August 1960

Avec le folk revival du début des années 60, Gary devient une référence de la guitare. Il vient de participer l'année précédente au fameux festival de Newport. Toute une génération de jeunes musiciens vient prendre des cours auprès de lui. Parmi ses jeunes étudiants, on peut trouver Stefan Grossman, Larry Johnson, Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg, Roy Book Binder, Woody Guthrie et bien d'autres. Cet enregistrement mythique a vu le jour grâce à Kenneth Goldstein et "Tiny" Robinson (amie de Gary Davis et nièce de Leadbelly). Dans les notes de pochette de Larry Cohn, on apprend que l'album fut bouclé en trois heures, la plupart des titres présentés étant des premières prises. Une version extraordinaire de "Samson and Delilah" (en réalité une reprise de "If I had my way" de Blind Willie Johnson) ouvre l'album. Mais, la suite est du même haut niveau : "Great change since I been born", "Death don't have no mercy", "Goin' to sit down on the banks of the river", "Lord I be with you always". La qualité sonore est parfaite et restitue remarquablement la technique de Gary Davis alors à son apogée.

With the folk revival of the early 60's, Gary became a reference of the guitar. He just participated the year before at the famous Newport festival. A whole generation of young musicians just take lessons with him. Among his young students, we can find Stefan Grossman, Larry Johnson, Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg, Roy Book Binder, Woody Guthrie and others. This legendary recording saw the light of the day thanks to Kenneth Goldstein and "Tiny" Robinson (Gary Davis' friend and niece of Leadbelly). In the Larry Cohn's liner notes, we learn that the album was completed in three hours, most of the presented titles being first takes. An extraordinary version of "Samson and Delilah" (actually a cover of "If I had my way" by Blind Willie Johnson) opens the album. But the whole album remains at the same high level : "Great changes since I been born", "Death don't have no mercy" "Goin' to sit down on the banks of the river", "Lord I be with you always". The sound quality is perfect and reproduces remarkably Gary Davis' virtuosity at its peak.

A LITTLE MORE FAITH

Prestige - Bluesville

WHEN I DIE I'LL LIVE AGAIN

Fantasy

August 1961

Il s'agit chronologiquement de son second disque pour Bluesville (un label appartenant à la firme Prestige) enregistré un an après (presque jour pour jour) "Harlem street singer". Il est totalement dans la même veine que le précédent et récèle quelques belles pépites : "Crucifixion", "I'm glad I'm in that number", "Motherless children", "I'll be all right some day".

This is chronologically his second disc for Bluesville (a label owned by Prestige) recorded a year later (almost to the day) "Harlem street singer". It is totally in the same vein as its predecessor and contains some beautiful gems : "Crucifixion", "I'm glad I'm in that number", "Motherless children", "I'll be all right some day".

SAY NO TO THE DEVIL

Prestige - Bluesville

Xtra

1961

Troisième opus pour Bluesville, toujours produit par Kenneth Goldstein, "Say no to the devil" possède les mêmes qualités que "Harlem street singer" et "A little more faith". A l'instar des deux précédents, il figure assurément dans ses meilleures réalisations. Plusieurs titres notables : "Say no to the devil", "Hold to God's unchanging hand" (dans lequel il est seul à l'harmonica), "I decided to go down", "Tryin' to get to heaven in due time".

Third installment for Bluesville, always produced by Kenneth Goldstein, "Say no to the devil" has the same qualities as "Harlem street singer" and "A little more faith". Like the previous two, it appears certainly in his best achievements. Several notable titles : "Say no to the devil", "Hold to God's unchanging hand" (in which he is alone on harmonica), "I decided to go down", "Tryin' to get to heaven in due time".

LIVE AT GERDE'S FOLK CITY

SGGW

February 1962

Il y a presque 3 heures de musique dans ce coffret triple CD concocté par Stefan Grossman. Il est constitué d'une série de concerts au Gerde's Folk City (dirigé par Mike Porco) de New York (dans Greenwich Village) avec le matériel d'enregistrement portable de Grossman. Parmi les titres les plus intéressants, signalons l'entrainant "Come down and see me sometime", un superbe "Oh Lord" seul à l'harmonica, un fervent "O Glory how happy I am" mais aussi "Just a closer walk with thee", "Sun goin' down", "I am a pilgrim". On peut écouter aussi plusieurs introductions parlées plutôt intéressantes dans l'ensemble.

There are nearly 3 hours of music in this triple CD box set concocted by Stefan Grossman. It consists of a series of concerts at Gerde's Folk City (directed by Mike Porco) in New York (Greenwich Village) with Grossman's portable recording equipment. Among the most interesting tracks, note the stirring "Come down and see me sometime", the superb "Oh Lord" alone on harmonica, an ardent "O Glory how happy I am" but also "Just a closer walk with thee", "Sun goin' down", "I am a pilgrim". We can listen also some spoken introductions rather interesting overall.

AT THE SIGN OF THE SUN

Heritage

June 1962

CHILDREN OF ZION

Kicking Mule

Transatlantic

LIVE IN CONCERT

Sonet

1962

I AM A TRUE VINE

Gospel Heritage

1962 / June 1963

RECORDED LIVE 1962 - 1964

Wolf

1962 / January 1964

BLUES AND RAGTIME

Shanachie

1962 - 1966

Capté entre 1962 et 1966 en studio et en public, Gary Davis reprend ici quelques uns de ses standards avec son talent habituel. Mais, l'ensemble reste plutôt inférieur à ses précédents disques. Un album mineur qu'on ne conseillera qu'aux amateurs confirmés.

Captured between 1962 and 1966 in studio and in public, Gary Davis interprets here some of his standards with his usual talent. But the whole is rather less intense than its previous discs. A minor album only advisable to experienced fans.

SOME PEOPLE WHO PLAY GUITAR

Kicking Mule

Sonet

SGGW

1962 - 1966

Stefan Grossman et Ed Denson (fondateurs de Kicking Mule) ont placé deux morceaux instrumentaux de Gary Davis dans cette anthologie : "Swinging blues" et "Darktown strutter's ball".

Stefan Grossman and Ed Denson (founders of Kicking Mule) placed two instrumental tracks of Gary Davis in this anthology : "Swinging blues" and "Darktown strutter's ball".

AT HOME AND CHURCH

SGGW

1962 - 1967

Dans ce coffret proposé par Stefan Grossman (qui fut son étudiant), on retrouve Gary au meilleur de sa forme enregistré soit chez lui dans sa maison du Bronx soit à l'église de son quartier. Aussi à l'aise à la guitare 6 et 12 cordes qu'au banjo, il donne une version puissante de "Twelve sticks" et d'excellentes interprétations de "What could I do", "Children of Zion", "Candyman". Comme pour le précédent coffret "Demons and angels", ce "At home and church" dresse un bon résumé de l'oeuvre du Reverend Gary Davis entre Blues, Gospel et Folk. Le troisième CD présente Gary Davis lors d'un office à l'église chantant des pièces religieuses ("Amazing grace", "Can't make this journey by myself") et délivrant ses sermons.

In this box set proposed by Stefan Grossman (who was his student), we find Gary in top form either recorded home in the Bronx or at the church of his neighborhood. Equally at ease on 6 and 12 string guitar and on banjo, he gives a powerful version of "Twelve sticks" and some excellent interpretations of "What could I do", "Children of Zion", "Candyman". As in the previous box set "Demons and angels", this "At home and church" provides a good summary of the work of Reverend Gary Davis between Blues, Gospel and Folk. The third CD present Gary Davis during a service in his church singing religious pieces ("Amazing grace", "Can't make this journey by myself") and delivering his sermons.

REVEREND GARY DAVIS

Heritage

1962 - 1970

LET US GET TOGETHER

Kicking Mule

Sonet

1963 - 1968

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP

Document

AN AFTERNOON WITH REVEREND GARY DAVIS

Document

January 1964

Gary Davis sur la scène de l'Université de Pennsylvanie. Une prestation plutôt routinière - moyennement enregistrée - qui n'apporte pas grand chose à sa légende.

Gary Davis on the scene of the University of Pennsylvania. A rather routine performance - fairly recorded - that does not add much to his legend.

THE GUITAR AND BANJO OF REVEREND GARY DAVIS

Prestige - Bluesville

P-Vine

March 1964

Comme le dit justement Chris Albertson dans les notes de pochette, ce disque est original à plus d'un titre. Tout d'abord, il est entièrement instrumental et, ensuite, il ne contient aucun titre religieux. Ce dernier disque pour Bluesville - supervisé par Sam Charters - possède une remarquable qualité sonore (tout comme "Harlem street singer" et "Say no to the devil"). On apprécie donc, tout particulièrement dans ce disque, l'extrême fluidité de son jeu en fingerpicking ("The boy was kissing the girl").

As rightly says by Chris Albertson in the liner notes, this album is an original work in many ways. First, it is entirely instrumental and also, it contains no religious title. This last album for Bluesville - overseen by Sam Charters - has a remarkable sound quality (like "Harlem street singer" and "Say no to the devil"). We therefore appreciate, especially in this disc, the extreme fluidity of his fingerpicking guitar playin ("The boy was kissing the girl").

MANCHESTER FREE TRADE HALL

Document

May 1964

Pendant la tournée de la Blues & Gospel Caravan en Europe en 1964, il passe par le Free Trade Hall de Manchester. La prise de son de Bob Groom est juste correcte. La prestation s'avère, pourtant, plutôt sympathique et mérite une écoute attentive. On notera un morceau en duo avec l'harmoniciste Sonny Terry.

During the Blues & Gospel Caravan 1964 tour in Europe, he performed at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The sound recording of Bob Groom is fairly decent. The concert turns out, however, pretty nice and worth listening. Note a song in duet with harmonica player Sonny Terry.

REVEREND GARY DAVIS / SHORT STUFF MACON

Xtra

1964

HEAR ME HOWLING

Arhoolie

1964

REVEREND GARY DAVIS AT NEWPORT

Vanguard

July 1965

A l'affiche du festival de Newport de juillet 1965, Gary Davis livre une performance habitée. De superbes versions de "Samson & Delilah", "Twelve sticks", "Death don't have no mercy", "You got to move", "She wouldn't say quit". La firme Vanguard a édité une version augmentée de deux titres (dont un duo avec Barry Kornfeld). Probablement, un des meilleurs concerts captés sur disque du Reverend Gary Davis.

Featuring at the Newport Festival in july 1965, Gary Davis delivers an inhabited performance. Superb versions of "Samson & Delilah", "Twelve sticks", "Death don't have no mercy","You got to move", "She wouldn't say quit". Vanguard label issued an expanded version with two additional tracks (including a duet with Barry Kornfeld). Probably one of his best concerts captured on disc.

BLIND GARY DAVIS

Document

Mid 1960's

THE SUN IS GOING DOWN

Folkways

1966 / March 1969

LIVE AND KICKIN'

Just a Memory

January 1967

A 70 passés, Gary se montre toujours en bonne forme au chant et à la guitare. Dans ce concert capté à Montréal (Canada) par Michael Nerenberg, il interprète ses morceaux habituels : "Samson and Delilah", "Twelve gates to the city", "Buck dance" avec savoir-faire et passion. Edité par Just a Memory (un label appartenant à la firme Justin Time), "Live and kickin'" s'impose comme un disque sympathique mais secondaire.

At 70, Gary always appears in good shape on both vocals and guitar. In this concert captured in Montreal (Canada) by Michael Nerenberg, he interprets his usual songs "Samson and Delilah", "Twelve gates to the city", "Buck dance" with skill and passion. Issued by Just a Memory (a label belonging to the firm Justin Time), "Live and kickin'" stands out as a nice but secondary album.

BRING YOUR MONEY HONEY

Fontana

1968

O GLORY

Adelphi

Genes

Edsel

March 1969

Sous-titré The apostolic studio sessions, enregistré par Gene Rosenthal, ce disque possède une qualité sonore excellente qui permet de profiter de la ferveur religieuse et de la virtuosité technique de ce grand artiste. Gary est ici accompagné par un de ses disciples Larry Johnson sur certains morceaux mais aussi par sa femme Sister Annie Davis. Autre particularité : Gary joue du piano sur "God will take care of you" et est soutenu par moments par une chorale (The apostolic family chorus). On peut aussi retenir de ce disque intense et varié "Let's get together", "Slippin' til' my gal get in", "Right now", "Soon my work will all be done".

Subtitled The apostolic studio sessions, recorded by Gene Rosenthal, this disc has excellent sound quality that allows you to enjoy the religious fervor and technical virtuosity of this great artist. Gary is here accompanied by one of his disciples Larry Johnson on some tracks but also by his wife Sister Annie Davis. Other particularity : Gary plays piano on "God will take care of you" and is supported at times by a choir (The apostolic family chorus). We can also point out from this intense and varied album "Let's get together", "Slippin' til' my gal get in", "Right now", "Soon my work will all be done".

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DELIA : LATE CONCERT RECORDINGS

American Activities

August 1970 / August 1971

NEW BLUES & GOSPEL

Biograph

Blue Moon

FROM GOSPEL TO BLUES

Biograph

March 1971

BLUES & GOSPEL vol.2

Biograph

FROM GOSPEL TO BLUES

Biograph

March 1971

LIVE AT CAMBRIDGE

Catfish

July - August 1971

RAGTIME GUITAR

Transatlantic

Kicking Mule

Heritage

1971

Dernière prestation du Reverend Gary Davis, peu avant sa mort, il s'agit encore une fois d'un disque entièrement instrumental magnifié par une clarté sonore parfaite ("Cincinnati flow rag") grâce à la production de Stefan Grossman. Magnifique pochette signée Hipgnosis.

Last recording of Reverend Gary Davis, shortly before his death, it is once again a completely instrumental opus magnified by the perfect sound clarity ("Cincinnati flow rag") thanks to the production of Stefan Grossman. Magnificent cover signed by Hipgnosis.