“This creative disc gives us piano pieces with ties to Twain. There is the Mark Twain Mazurka, and a fascinating Nearer My God to Thee, transcribed from a QRS piano roll by Blind Boone, the first African American to make a piano roll. There are three impressive pieces by another African American great, Blind Tom, whose music Davis has recorded for blues audiences. Twain was fascinated by Blind Tom, with what appears to be very good reason. Davis, an authority in roots music, plays with engaging simplicity and, in between, pieces, reads relevant passages from Twain and his circle. His take on Beethoven’s ‘Pathetique’ Sonata is forthright and lovely. The sonata was a mainstay of the repertoire of both Blind Boone and Blind Tom—and Davis writes that Twain, too, probably played it at home…[Davis’] homespun playing makes you think of Twain and his friends, gathered around a piano in a parlor.”

Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News

“The surprise hit of the evening, however, was classical pianist John Davis who had just released an entire CD of Boone’s music…his performance was nothing less than astounding…It’s safe to say that almost all of the audience knew only of Boone’s ragtime compositions, of which there are two. However, Boone’s concerts mostly featured classical music, including many of his own works, and Davis regaled the listeners with what Boone might have played 100 years ago. Davis had previously recorded the music of ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins, whose career intersected with Boone’s, and he skillfully wove the history and the music of the two musicians together in a mesmerizing performance.”

The Mississippi Rag

 “For those unfamiliar with John William ‘Blind’ Boone (1864-1927), this superb recording by Juilliard alum John Davis will be a revelation…Davis’ bravura technique and grand style have been lovingly caught by engineers Al Houghton and David Smith, making it easy for listeners to conjure up images of rustling parlor curtains on a Kansas City summer night. The ‘enhanced’ CD–pop it into a computer–includes an eight-minute film by Joan Grossman called Music Miner, with Davis recalling his early exposure to much of this music, and the racier prohibition days in Kansas City’s 18th & Vine District, a neighborhood packed with jazz and blues clubs. This recording should go a long way toward raising the profile of one of Scott Joplin’s most imaginative contemporaries.”

Bruce Hodges, The Juilliard Journal