This three-disc "ultimate collection" is an impressive compilation of recordings made featuring Rev. Gary Davis during a period spanning 1956 to 1966. An obvious labor of love, Demons and Angels
was compiled and produced by one of Rev. Davis' former students -- Stefan Grossman
who paid Davis
five dollars a lesson "regardless whether it would last an hour or several days." Going beyond gathering various performances, this set examines Rev. Davis' unique fingerpickin' acoustic guitar style from several distinctive points of view. Unfortunately the liner notes booklet sheds no light into the nature, exact recording dates, or venues of these performances. Presenting Davis in such varied settings allows enthusiast and student alike the unique perspective of hearing one of America's premier folk musicians in a most intimate situation. Disc one features songs recorded at Columbia University in 1958 and 1959 by student John Gibson
. Judging from the occasional verbal instruction, as well as the lack of an audible audience, it is surmised that Davis is participating in some degree of formal instruction. Disc two includes home recordings, presumably documented by Grossman during his one-on-one mentoring sessions between 1964 and 1966. Disc three rounds off Demons and Angles
with various live performances from 1962-1966. The impact that Rev. Gary Davis had on musicians such as folk icon Dave Van Ronk and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen is obvious. The profound influence affected not only their choice of material, but more insidiously performance and delivery styles as well. Nowhere is this more evident than the live readings of "Let Us Get Together," "Lord, Search My Heart," and "Cocaine Blues." Rev. Davis' liquefied fretwork foreshadows Kaukonen's stunning virtuosity, while his sly, talking-blues delivery seems tailor made for Van Ronk's decidedly Greenwich Village approach.