Walter Davis Jr.
|Born||September 2, 1932|
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||June 2, 1990 (aged 57)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Labels||Blue Note, Denon, Palcoscenico, Mapleshade, SteepleChase|
Davis once left the music world to be a tailor, but returned. A soloist, bandleader, and accompanist, he amassed a body of work while never becoming a high-profile name even within the jazz community. Davis played with Babs Gonzales' Three Bips & a Bop as a teen, then moved from Richmond to New York in the early 1950s. He played with Max Roach and Charlie Parker, recording with Roach in 1953.
After retiring from music for a while to run his tailor shop, Davis returned in the 1960s, producing records and writing arrangements for a local New Jersey group. He studied music in India in 1979, and played with Sonny Rollins in the early 1970s.
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Born in Richmond, Virginia, Davis performed as a teenager with Babs Gonzales. In the 1950s, Davis recorded with Melba Liston and Max Roach. He played with Roach, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1958, he played with trumpeter Donald Byrd at Le Chat Qui Pêche in Paris and shortly after realized his dream of becoming pianist and composer-arranger for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Davis married songwriter Mayme Watts, who was performing as a vocalist with the Walter Davis Jr. Trio.
After retiring from music in the 1960s to work as a tailor, painter, and designer, he returned in the 1970s to perform with Sonny Rollins and again with the Jazz Messengers. He recorded with many other prominent jazz musicians, including Kenny Clarke, Sonny Criss, Jackie McLean, Pierre Michelot and Archie Shepp.
Davis was known as an interpreter of the music of Bud Powell, but also recorded an album capturing the compositional and piano style of Thelonious Monk. Several of his compositions served as titles for albums by Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Combining traditional harmonies with modal patterns and featuring numerous rhythmic shifts along with internal melodic motifs within operatic, aria-like sweeping melodies, Davis's compositions included "Scorpio Rising", "Backgammon", "Uranus", "Gypsy Folk Tales", "Jodi", and "Ronnie Is a Dynamite Lady".
Davis died in New York City on June 2, 1990, aged 57, from complications of liver and kidney disease.
|1959||Davis Cup||Blue Note||Quintet, with Donald Byrd (trumpet), Jackie McLean (alto sax), Sam Jones bass), Art Taylor (drums)|
|1977?||Illumination||Denon||With Carter Jefferson (tenor sax), Charles Sullivan (trumpet), Jeremy Steig (flute), Buster Williams (bass), Bruno Carr, Art Blakey and Tony Williams (drums); Naná Vasconcelos (percussion), Milton Frustino (guitar) added for one track|
|1979?||Night Song||Denon||Trio, with Tom Barney (bass, electric bass), Kenny Washington (drums)|
|Abide with Me||Denon|
|A Being Such As You||Red|
|1979?||400 Years Ago Tomorrow|
|1981?||Live au Dreher||Trio, with Pierre Michelot (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums); in concert|
|1987||In Walked Thelonious||Mapleshade||Solo piano|
|1989||Scorpio Rising||SteepleChase||Trio, with Santi Debriano (bass), Ralph Peterson (drums)|
|1990?||Jazznost: Moscow-Washington Jazz Summit|
With Art Blakey
- Africaine (Blue Note, 1959)
- Paris Jam Session (Fontana, 1961)
- Roots & Herbs (Blue Note, 1961)
- Gypsy Folk Tales (Roulette, 1977)
With Nick Brignola
- Burn Brigade (Bee Hive, 1979)
With Donald Byrd
- Byrd in Hand (Blue Note, 1959)
With Sonny Criss
With Walt Dickerson
With Teddy Edwards
- Nothin' But the Truth! (Prestige, 1966)
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Slide Hampton
With Etta Jones
- Ms. Jones to You (Muse, 1976)
With Philly Joe Jones
- Philly Joe's Beat (Atlantic, 1960)
- To Tadd with Love (Uptown, 1982) with Dameronia
- Look Stop Listen (Uptown, 1983) with Dameronia
With Jackie McLean
With Hank Mobley
With Max Roach
With Julian Priester
With Sonny Rollins
With Charlie Rouse
With Art Taylor
- Taylor's Tenors (Prestige, 1959)