Jackie Davis

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Jackie Davis
Jackie Davis Most Happy Hammond.jpg
Davis on the cover of his 1958 album
Most Happy Hammond
Background information
Born(1920-12-13)December 13, 1920
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
DiedNovember 2, 1999(1999-11-02) (aged 78)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
GenresJazz, soul jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader
InstrumentsHammond organ
Years active1951–1980
LabelsCapitol, Warner Bros., EMI
Associated actsLouis Jordan

Jackie Davis (December 13, 1920 – November 2, 1999) was an American soul jazz singer, organist and bandleader. He is notable for his contributions in bringing the Hammond organ to the forefront of jazz and pop, preceding the better-known Jimmy Smith by several years.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Davis was born and grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and started playing piano at the age of ten, before studying music at Florida A&M. He experimented with jazz on the pipe organ, before switching to the Hammond. He was influenced by Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett, and after a spell backing Louis Jordan, he started fronting his own jazz groups.[2][3]

His solo career began in earnest after a residency at the Club Harlem in Philadelphia in 1951, and from there he began touring across the US, with the Hammond now being his trademark. He notably preceded Jimmy Smith in using the instrument in small jazz combos.[1] Regular touring led to a recording contract with Capitol, with whom he recorded several albums. His initial sessions were on a Model B, but by the time he recorded Hi-Fi Hammond Vol.2, he had upgraded to the classic B-3.[1]

In the 1960s, he signed to Warner Bros. Records, releasing Easy Does It as The Jackie Davis Quartet, following it up with Jackie Davis Plus Voices, which also featured the Sid Bass Chorus on backing vocals. For this album, Davis put more of an emphasis on his vocal skills, using the Hammond sparingly.[1]

He made a brief comeback in 1980, recording a self-titled album for EMI, and making a cameo appearance in the film Caddyshack as the country club valet Porterhouse. He kept Jacksonville as his homebase and died on November 2, 1999 following a stroke.[3]


While Davis is remembered mostly as a jazz organist, he was capable of a wide variety of styles, though he himself preferred to focus on jazz. In 1963, in an interview for the Hammond Times, he thought "the term 'jazz' is vastly overworked and misused ... Basically, jazz is a style of making music."[1] He felt that the Hammond gave him the versatility he needed to emulate the sound of a big band in a small group. Author and Hammond enthusiast Scott Faragher feels that Davis' recorded output has been overlooked because it sounds dated, but stresses his importance in giving the Hammond recognition in the jazz and pop world should not be underestimated.[1]

Shirley Scott stated her playing was influenced by Davis, claiming he knew "everything about the Hammond organ" and was impressed with his ability to manipulate the instrument.[4]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Label Format Notes
1952 The Jackie Davis Trio Trend TL-1010 LP
1956 Hi-Fi Hammond Capitol T-686 LP
1956 Organistics Kapp KL-1030 LP
1957 Chasing Shadows Capitol T-815 LP
1958 Jumpin' Jackie Capitol T-974 LP
1958 Most Happy Hammond Capitol T-1046 LP
1959 Hammond Gone Cha-Cha Capitol T-1338 LP
1959 Jackie Davis Meets the Trombones Capitol T-1180 LP
1960 Tiger on the Hammond Capitol T-1419 LP
1960 Hi-Fi Hammond Vol 2 Capitol T-1517 LP
1962 Big Beat Hammond Capitol T-1686 LP
1963 Easy Does It Warner Brothers W-1492 LP
1963 Jackie Davis Plus Voices Warner Brothers W-1515 LP with Sid Bass Chorus
1968 The Sacred Side of Jackie Davis Brunswick BL-754143 LP
Jackie Davis Plays The Park Plaza RCA PC/PCS-1061 LP
Jackie Davis Entertains! Columbia EL-112 LP
1980 Jackie Davis EMI 1A 054-26474 LP
2007 Jackie Davis (reissue) Fonos LP-9410 CD


Year Title Label Format Notes
1970 The Best of Jackie Davis Capitol 5C 054.80309 LP
1996 Mambo Fever - Ultra-Lounge Vol 2 Capitol CDP 7243 8 32564 2 6 CD
1996 Organs in Orbit - Ultra-Lounge Vol 11 Capitol CDP 7243 8 37597 2 9 CD
2001 The Story of Jazz - Jackie Davis EMI 724357621526 CD
2008 Jumping Hi-Fi Hammond Jasmine JASCD 472 CD

As sideman[edit]

Rel. Performer Title Label Format Notes
1955 Dinah Washington After Hours with Miss D Emarcy MG 36028 LP, CD
1958 Louis Jordan Man We're Wailin' Mercury MG 20331 LP
1978 Ella Fitzgerald Lady Time Pablo 2310 825 LP, CD

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Faragher, Scott (2011). The Hammond Organ : An introduction to the instrument and the players who made it famous. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 235–237. ISBN 978-1-4584-0287-5.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. "Jackie Davis – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine (editors). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Definitive Guide to Jazz Music. Backbeat Books. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-87930-717-2.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Enstice, Wayne (2004). Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-one Musicians, Volume 1. Indiana University Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-0-253-34436-6.