Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on March 2, 1954.
Personnel: Rev. Gary Davis (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica).
Recording information: Englewood Cliffs, NJ (03/02/1964).
Because this is an all-instrumental recording, it's an offbeat entry into the catalog of a performer known both as an important guitarist and as a singer. Some might miss Davis' vocals on this 1964 recording, but on the other hand there are plenty of records with him singing around. This gives listeners a chance to hone in on his dexterous guitar skills, blending ragtime, folk, and blues, usually on guitar (though he plays banjo on a couple of songs, and harmonica on one). "Maple Leaf Rag" is a natural showcase for Davis' talents, and "Candy Man," which may be his most well-known song, is here presented without words, making for an interesting juxtaposition with more commonly heard versions on which he (or others) sings. As further evidence of his eclecticism, there's a version of "United States March aka Soldier's Drill" -- not the best format for his strengths, certainly, but an illustration of his ability to adapt his style to unexpected material. ~ Richie Unterberger