Re: [RedHotJazz] Art Davis; double bassist who played with jazz greats; 73
- Much love and respect. R.I.P.
On 8/11/07, pdqblues <PDQBlues@...> wrote:
> Art Davis; double bassist who played with jazz greats; 73
> ASSOCIATED PRESS
> August 7, 2007
> Art Davis, the renowned double bassist who played with John Coltrane
> and other jazz greats, has died. He was 73.
> Mr. Davis died of a heart attack July 29 at his home in Long Beach,
> his son Kimaili Davis told the Los Angeles Times.
> Mr. Davis was blacklisted in the 1970s for speaking up about racism in
> the music industry, and he later earned a doctorate in clinical
> psychology, balancing performance dates with appointments to see patients.
> "He was adventurous with his approach to playing music," said pianist
> Nate Morgan, who played with the elder Davis intermittently over the
> past 10 years. "It takes a certain amount of integrity to step outside
> the box and say, 'I like it here, and I'm going to hang here for a
> while.' "
> Known for his stunning and complete mastery of the instrument, Mr.
> Davis was able to jump between genres. He played classical music with
> the New York Philharmonic; was a member of the NBC, Westinghouse and
> CBS orchestras; and played for Broadway shows.
> The most enriching experience of his career was collaborating with
> John Coltrane. Described by jazz critic Nat Hentoff as Coltrane's
> favorite bassist, Mr. Davis performed on the saxophonist's albums
> including "Ascension," Volumes 1 and 2 of "The Africa/Brass Sessions"
> and "Ole Coltrane."
> The two musicians met one night in the late 1950s at Small's Paradise,
> a jazz club in Harlem.
> Mr. Davis viewed his instrument as "the backbone of the band," one
> that should "inspire the group by proposing harmonic information with
> a certain sound quality and rhythmic impulses," Mr. Davis said in an
> excerpt from So What magazine posted on his Web site.
> By following his own advice, Mr. Davis' career flourished. He played
> with a long and varied list of artists: Thelonious Monk; Duke
> Ellington; Rahsaan Roland Kirk; Louis Armstrong; Judy Garland; John
> Denver; the trio Peter, Paul and Mary; and Bob Dylan.
> Mr. Davis began studying piano at age 5 in Harrisburg, Pa., where he
> was born in 1933. By sixth grade, Mr. Davis studied the tuba in school
> because it was the only instrument available, he said.
> By 1951, he decided to make music his career. He chose the double
> bass, believing it would allow more opportunities to make a living. At
> age 17, he studied with the principal double bassist at the
> Philadelphia Orchestra. But when he auditioned for his hometown's
> symphony, the audition committee was so unduly harsh and demanding
> that the conductor Edwin MacArthur questioned their objectivity.
> "The answer was, 'Well, he's colored,' and there was silence," Mr.
> Davis recalled in a 2002 article in Double Bassist magazine. "Finally
> MacArthur burst out, 'If you don't want him, then you don't want me.'
> So they quickly got together and accepted me."
> After high school, Mr. Davis studied classical music on scholarship at
> the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School of Music. At
> night he played jazz in New York clubs.
> In the 1970s, his fortunes waned after he filed an unsuccessful
> discrimination lawsuit against the New York Philharmonic. Like other
> black musicians who challenged hiring practices, he lost work and
> industry connections.
> With less work coming his way, Mr. Davis returned to school and in
> 1981, earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from New York
> University. For many years he was a practicing psychologist while also
> working as a musician.
> As a result of his lawsuit and protest, Mr. Davis played a key role in
> the increased use of the so-called blind audition, in which musicians
> are heard but not seen by those evaluating them, Hentoff said.
> The accomplished musician also pioneered a fingering technique for the
> bass and wrote "The Arthur Davis System for Double Bass."
> Mr. Davis also wore the hat of university professor. He taught at the
> University of California Irvine for two years. Most recently, Mr.
> Davis was a part-time music instructor at Orange Coast College in
> Costa Mesa.
> Besides his son Kimaili, Mr. Davis is survived by another son and a
> (c) Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. • A Copley Newspaper Site