Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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DAVIS, Richard

(b 15 April '30, Chicago) Bass, composer, leader. A superb musician at home in jazz, classical or any other context; he freelanced with symphony orchestras as well as working with Ahmad Jamal '53-4, Sarah Vaughan '57-60, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band '66-72 (heard to advantage on the Mosaic boxed set of that band's Solid State recordings); also with Eric Dolphy (Out To Lunch '64), Andrew Hill, Roland Kirk, many others; he graced Van Morrison's Astral Weeks '68 with his uniquely propulsive, springy sound. Began teaching at U. of Wisconsin/Madison '77. A true virtuoso, his zinging precision is a delight on Joel Futterman's 'Inneraction Suite' on Inner Conversations on Ear-Rational, and on Futterman's Vision In Time on Silkheart. His recordings as a leader are not frequent enough, but include Muses For Richard Davis '69 on MPS, six albums on Muse '72-7 including Now's The Time; Fancy Free '77 on Galaxy, Persia My Dear '87 on DIW, One For Frederick '89 on Hep (quintet with Roland Hanna, Fred Waits). Reminisces (Classics And Jazz And Life) c'89 on Sympatico was a compilation of tour de force: ten solo and overdubbed tracks (some classical pieces), duos (including one from One For Frederick), one trio and one quartet track. Total Package '97 on Marge with Curtis Clark, piano; Ricky Ford, tenor sax and Andre Cyrille on drums was made in Paris and saw everybody in top form, eight originals (six by Davis) mixing hard bop and ballads.