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CDA: Richard Davis

My brother Howard alerted me to the death of the great jazz bassist Richard Davis, who died at the age of 93. Here's a little overview of his career from the NY Times obit:

"Mr. Davis, who was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2014, appeared on more than 600 albums. A first-call player for some of the most important figures in jazz history, he had fruitful collaborations with the reed player Eric Dolphy (whose composition “Iron Man” was named for him) and the pianist Andrew Hill. He was a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, which performed every Monday night at the Village Vanguard in New York, from the ensemble’s debut in 1966 until 1972.

"His advanced technique, especially with the bow, led to work with classical orchestras under Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein. His adaptability resulted in sessions with Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt."

I might not have been familiar with him if he hadn't had a Wisconsin connection. He became a professor at UW Madison in 1977 and taught there until his retirement in 2016. He was actually my very first celebrity interaction...

It was sometime around 1997 or '98 and I was at Marshall Field's at Hilldale Mall. I was in line for the cashier and Richard Davis was ahead of me line. I was tempted to say hello but I decided not to. I know how celebrities prefer to be left alone. After a little bit he looked around, saw me, and smiled, as you would at any stranger standing behind you in line. Then he turned around and said:

RICHARD DAVIS: Don't I know you from somewhere?

ME: Um, you probably recognize me from the School of Music.

RICHARD DAVIS: OK, what do you play?

ME: I'm a singer.

RICHARD DAVIS: [scowl] I don't know any singers.

ME: You've probably seen me in the hallway. And I'm a friend of David Ephross [one of his students].

RICHARD DAVIS: That's probably it.

ME: You know, I have a couple of your recordings.

RICHARD DAVIS: [smiles] What do you have?

ME: *The Sextet of Orchestra USA Plays Kurt Weill.*

RICHARD DAVIS: Are you kidding me? That is on CD?!?!?

ME: Yes it is! And Eric Dolphy, *Out To Lunch.*

RICHARD DAVIS: That's some weird sh-t.

I found this cool video on YouTube about a solo Davis did on an Astrud Gilberto record.

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