Wild Bill Davis

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Wild Bill Davis
Wild Bill Davis.jpg
Wild Bill Davis in 1954
Background information
Birth name William Strethen Davis
Born (1918-11-24)November 24, 1918
Glasgow, Missouri, U.S.
Died August 17, 1995(1995-08-17)
Moorestown, New Jersey
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, arranger
Instruments Piano, organ

Wild Bill Davis (November 24, 1918 – August 17, 1995) was the stage name of American jazz pianist, organist, and arranger William Strethen Davis.

Biography[edit]

Davis was born in Glasgow, Missouri. He is best known for his pioneering jazz electronic organ recordings and for his tenure with the Tympany Five, the backing group for Louis Jordan. Prior to the emergence of Jimmy Smith in 1956, Davis (whom Smith had reportedly first seen playing organ in the 1930s) was the pacesetter among organists.

Davis originally played guitar and wrote arrangements for Milt Larkin's Texas-based big band during 1939–1942, a band which included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Tom Archia on horns. After leaving the Larkin orchestra, Davis worked in Chicago as a pianist, recording with Buster Bennett in 1945. He played a crucial role as the pianist-arranger in Jordan's Tympany Five (1945–1947) at the peak of their success. After leaving Jordan, he returned to Chicago for a time, recording again with Buster Bennett and working with Claude McLin. After switching from piano to organ, Davis moved to the East Coast. In 1950, he began leading an influential trio of organ, guitar, and drums, which recorded for OKeh Records.

Davis was originally supposed to record "April in Paris" with Count Basie's Orchestra in 1955 but when he could not make the session, Basie used his arrangement for the full band and had a major hit.

In addition to working with his own groups in the 1960s, Davis made several albums with his friend Johnny Hodges, leading to tours during 1969–1971 with Duke Ellington. In the 1970s he recorded for the Black & Blue Records label with a variety of swing all-stars, and he also played with Lionel Hampton, appearing at festivals through the early 1990s. Davis died in Moorestown, New Jersey.

Discography[edit]

Wild Bill Davis (left) and double-bassist Chubby Jackson, North Sea Jazz Festival, 1979

As leader/co-leader[edit]

  • 1954: Here's Wild Bill Davis (Epic LG-1004 [10" LP]) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus (AKA Chris Columbo)
  • 1954: On The Loose (Epic LN-1121 [10" LP]) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus
  • 1955: Wild Bill Davis At Birdland (Epic LN-3118) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus; reissued as Lullaby Of Birdland in 1972.
  • 1955: Evening Concerto (Epic LN-3308) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus
  • 1956: Wild Bill Davis On Broadway (Imperial LP-9010) – with Floyd Smith, Joe Morris
  • 1956: Wild Bill Davis In Hollywood (Imperial LP-9015) – with Floyd Smith, Joe Morris
  • 1959: Wild Bill Davis Swings Hit Songs From "My Fair Lady" (Everest LPBR-5014/SDBR-1014) – with Maurice Simon, Milt Hinton, Jo Jones
  • 1959: Flying High With Wild Bill Davis (Everest LPBR-5052/SDBR-1052) – with George Clark, Bill Jennings, Grady Tate
  • 1960: Dance The Madison! (Everest LPBR-5094/SDBR-1094)
  • 1960: Organ Grinder's Swing (Everest LPBR-5116/SDBR-1116) – reissue of Dance The Madison!
  • 1961: Dis Heah (This Here) (Everest LPBR-5125/SDBR-1125)
  • 1961: The Music From Milk & Honey (Everest LPBR-5133/SDBR-1133) – with Charlie Shavers
  • 1961: Blue Hodge (Verve V6-8406) – with Johnny Hodges; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10286).
  • 1962: One More Time (Coral CRL-57417)
  • 1962: Lover (Coral CRL-57427)
  • 1963: Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Wild Bill Davis (Imperial LP-9201/LP-12201)
  • 1963: Mess of Blues (Verve V6-8570) – with Johnny Hodges, Kenny Burrell; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10285).
  • 1964: Blue Rabbit (Verve V6-8599) – with Johnny Hodges; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10286).
  • 1965: Free, Frantic And Funky (RCA Victor LSP-3314)
  • 1965: Con-Soul & Sax (RCA Victor LSP-3393) – with Johnny Hodges; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10283).
  • 1965: Joe's Blues (Verve V6-8617) – with Johnny Hodges, Grant Green; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10284).
  • 1965: Wings & Things (Verve V6-8630) – with Johnny Hodges, Grant Green; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10284).
  • 1966: Blue Pyramid (Verve V6-8635) – with Johnny Hodges; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10283).
  • 1966: Live At Count Basie's (RCA Victor LSP-3578)
  • 1966: Wild Bill Davis & Johnny Hodges In Atlantic City (RCA Victor LSP-3706) – with Johnny Hodges; reissued as In A Mellotone in 1990; reissued on CD in 2007 by Lone Hill Jazz (LHJ10283).
  • 1967: Midnight To Dawn (RCA Victor LSP-3799)
  • 1968: Flying Home (Sunset/Liberty SUM-1191/SUS-5191) – compilation of material recorded for Everest Records.
  • 1969: Doin' His Thing (RCA Victor LSP-4139)
  • 1971: Wonderful World Of Love (Tangerine TRCS-1509)
  • 1972: Impulsions (Disques Black & Blue 33.037) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus
  • 1972: Buddy Tate & Wild Bill Davis (Disques Black & Blue 33.054) – with Floyd Smith, Chris Columbus; reissued on CD as Broadway in 1987 by Black & Blue.
  • 1973: Illinois Jacquet With Wild Bill Davis (Disques Black & Blue 33.044)) – with Al Bartee; reissued on CD as The Man I Love in 1995 by Black & Blue.
  • 1973: Illinois Jacquet With Wild Bill Davis, Vol. 2 (Disques Black & Blue 33.082) – with Al Bartee
  • 1976: Wild Bill Davis & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Live! (Disques Black & Blue 33.303) – with Billy Butler, Oliver Jackson
  • 1976: Wild Bill Davis & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Live! Vol. 2 (Disques Black & Blue 33.308) – with Billy Butler, Oliver Jackson
  • 1976: All Right OK You Win (Disques Black & Blue 33.133) – with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Billy Butler, Oliver Jackson
  • 1986: Live At Swiss Radio, Studio Zürich (Jazz Connaisseur JCLP-8701) – with Clifford Scott, Dickie Thompson, Clyde Lucas
  • 1986: Greatest Organ Solos Ever! (Jazz Connaisseur JCLP-8702) – solo organ
  • 1987: 70th/30th Anniversary Live Concert (Die Mühle A-850581) – with Austrian jazz organist T.C. Pfeiler http://www.tcpfeiler.com
  • 1990: Wild Bill Davis Super Trio: That's All (Jazz Connaisseur JCCD-9005) – with Plas Johnson, Butch Miles
  • 2004: In the Groove! (Fresh Sound FSRCD-308) – with George Clark, Bill Jennings, Grady Tate; CD compilation of material recorded for Everest Records.
  • 2004: In a Mellow Tone (Fresh Sound FSRCD-309) – with George Clark, Bill Jennings, Grady Tate; CD compilation of material recorded for Everest Records.
  • 2005: Organology By Wild Bill Davis: April In Paris (Vol. 1) (Ocium Records [Spain] OCM-0046) – CD compilation of material recorded for Epic Records.
  • 2005: Organology by Wild Bill Davis: Syncopated Clock (Vol. 2) (Ocium Records [Spain] OCM-0047) – CD compilation of material recorded for Epic Records.
  • 2005: The Everest Years (Expanded Edition) (Empire Musicwerks/Re Records/V.I. Music 50719) – CD compilation of Davis' five Everest albums.
  • 2014: Live at Sonny's Place 1985 (Squatty Roo Records SQU-217)
  • 2014: Live at Sonny's Place 1986 (Squatty Roo Records SQU-218)

As sideman[edit]

With Ray Brown

With Billy Butler

  • Don't Be That Way (Black & Blue, 1976)

With Arnett Cobb

With Gene "Mighty Flea" Conners

  • Coming Home (Black & Blue, 1976)

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Duke Ellington

With Johnny Hodges

With Floyd Smith

  • Floyd's Guitar Blues (Black & Blue, 1972)

With Sonny Stitt

References[edit]