Walter Davis Jr.
|Walter Davis Jr.|
Photo by Carlo Rondinelli
September 2, 1932|
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||June 2, 1990
New York City
|Labels||Blue Note, Denon, Palcoscenico, Mapleshade, SteepleChase|
|Associated acts||Jazz Messengers|
Walter Davis Jr. (September 2, 1932 – June 2, 1990) was an American hard bop pianist.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, Davis performed as a teenager with Babs Gonzales. In the 1950s, Davis recorded with Melba Liston, Max Roach and 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.
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. Although few of Davis' recordings as a pianist remain in print, 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, from complications of liver and kidney disease.
- Davis Cup (Blue Note, 1959)
- Night Song (Denon, 1979)
- Blues Walk (1979)
- Uranus (Palcoscenico, 1979)
- 400 Years Ago Tomorrow (1979)
- Live au Dreher (1981)
- In Walked Thelonious (Mapleshade, 1987)
- Illumination (Denon, 1989)
- Jazznost: Moscow-Washington Jazz Summit (1990)
- Scorpio Rising (SteepleChase, 1994)
With Art Blakey
- Africaine (Blue Note, 1959)
- Paris Jam Session (Fontana, 1961)
- Roots & Herbs (Blue Note, 1961)
- Gypsy Folk Tales (Roulette, 1977)
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 Philly Joe Jones
- Philly Joe's Beat (Atlantic, 1960)
With Jackie McLean
With Hank Mobley
With Max Roach
With Julian Priester
With Sonny Rollins
With Art Taylor
- Taylor's Tenors (Prestige, 1959)
- Goldsher, Alan (2002). Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, p. 94. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard. ISBN 0-634-03793-5.