BIOGRAPHY: Revered drummer/composer Associate Professor Quincy Davis

Currently, Associate Professor of Jazz Drum Set at the University of North Texas, QUINCY DAVIS was born in Grand Rapids, MI, and comes from a very musical family.  He began taking piano and drum lessons at age 6. In his elementary and middle school bands, he also played trumpet and tuba. Both of his parents are musicians who exposed him to all different styles of music including instrumental jazz, European classical, gospel, opera, R&B, and jazz fusion.

His formal music studies began during his 11th-grade year at Interlochen Arts Academy. There he studied classical percussion and began playing drum sets in jazz bands with peers for the first time.

After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1995, Davis began studying at Western Michigan University. There he studied with the drum legend, Billy Hart. During his collegiate years, Davis gained a plethora of experience playing in big bands and small groups that played at various collegiate jazz festivals. Davis’ talents would be recognized at these festivals through awards and written accolades by notable musicians like Benny Green, Bunky Green, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Roy Haynes, Carl Allen, Louis Hayes, and Wallace Roney.

After graduating from WMU in 1999, Davis taught elementary and middle school instrumental music in the Grand Rapids area for one year where he taught beginner, intermediate and advanced concert bands before moving to New York City.

In the summer of 2000, Davis moved to New York City where he quickly became one of the highly sought after “young cats” on the New York jazz scene. In New York, Davis frequently played at all the famous jazz venues including the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Smalls, Jazz Standard, Birdland, the Iridium, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, and Smoke. ~Read more

Curious, I’m sure listen to the infectious “Q VISION” by Qunicy Davis

REFLECTION: Pianist Gerald Clayton is a forerunner of innovation and a permanent fixture in today’s jazz

Pianist/composer Gerald Clayton returns as a prominent player in a crowded smorgasbord of impassioned musicians with his latest project “Life Forum.” With this offering, he continues to assure listeners he’s truly a forerunner of innovation and a permanent fixture in today’s jazz. The eclecticism of Gerald’s compositional style groans with the complexity of intrepid harmonies, compassion, and stimulating melodies are evenly augmented through the remnants of thirteen transformative pieces on “Life Forum.”

The album opens with “A Life Forum,” this piece resonates with a futuristic baritone voice shaped by spoken word artist Carl Hancock Rux. In reality, traditionalists probably won’t feel this vibe. With that said, this outing is comprised of unorthodox melodies and rhythms cased in the model jazz artists dare engage themselves in. Moreover, that’s why I embrace Clayton’s style as he constantly challenges the playing field to reveal an unexpected yet relevant body of work that grows on you more and more with each listen. Case in point, “Future Reflection” takes you into a new dimension from the opener to elevate you further with its transparent shapes, colors and abstract layers are echoed by the following “Shadamanthem, Sir Third and Deep Dry Ocean” is a mere snapshot of this wonderful canvas of music.

As I listen his intuitive, luminous, and fragmented exchanges are illuminated by his usual suspects featured on “Life Forum” this gives me even more reason to return for more spins. Not by happenstance, Gerald is not totally removed from his family lineage of straight-ahead jazz (Under Madhatter Medicinal Groupon (Ummg). At any rate, his voicings are submerged in the perspective of composing, playing, and recording lyrically adventurous music. Frankly, that’s what I love so much about his acquisitive and artistic voice.

Notably, the ensemble’s perplexed phrasings are broadcast endlessly by their resilient symmetry surpasses the ordinary to expose the multiplicity, elements, and surreal moments achieved throughout this never-ending journey is well worth exploring. If you’re audacious in spirit (musically), please don’t hesitate to add “Life Forum” to your collection today.

*Originally reviewed: October 2, 2013, by Rob Young

Listen here, to “LIFE FORUM” by pianist/composer Gerald Clayton it’s definitely worth your time.

 

REFLECTION: Hanging out with “Black Codes” featuring the legendary Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis, BLACK CODES (ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: Jan, 11, 1985)

Being an ardent advocate of modern jazz and emerging new sounds and artists, pondering this segment titled “REFLECTION” is something I never intended on doing from the place arrived from let alone writing frequently about some of my favorite older jazz recordings.

Today, I revisited “BLACK CODES” it is undoubtedly a mind changer and one of my favorite albums by renowned trumpeter/composer and educator Wynton Marsalis. FROM THE UNDERGROUND sustains its purpose by being an unmeasurable palette as I hear it stands out among the best of his previous recordings because it embodies progressive ingredients, melodies, rhythms, and intricacies that make jazz what is today as America’s unbridled classical music conceived by black musicians (no pun to other cultures).  The album opens with the iconic “BLACK CODES” the title immediately frames the coherent conversation, structure, and language needed to attract an intended and broader audience.

FOR WEE FOLKS” follows as the absolute hippest tune on the record. The ensemble’s (best of the best here) cohesive interplay swings with depth and the dexterous swagger of old school players seizes and retains your attention from beginning to the end. With five more tracks in the balance, I was eager to hear “DELEAYO’S DILEMMA” it lands as an infallible tribute to his brother Deleayo is a thoughtful approach that’s vibrant, and embraceable tune qualifies as essential modern jazz at its finest.

Another attractive piece in the mix is “PHRYZZINIAN MAN,” this jewel compliments the session. It inhabits, yes, inhabits the sway, harmony and technical artistry jazz fans have come accustomed to hearing Marsalis score and play. The mellowed bluesy tenor of “AURAL OASIS” articulates his brilliance, on this lush arrangement as the title implies will envelop you into the moment as you wade through the cool, intimate, and melodic jazz to relish with each listen.

CHAMBERS OF TAIN” as expected explodes with fast and furious rifts, expressions, and fascinating interplay provided embellishes perfect timing and deeply rooted in the tradition of bebop. Tough the blues is not necessarily my forte, in all due respect to where this music derived from any jazz artists of Wynton’s magnitude will enthusiastically play the blues in any situation. That said, this tune ironically titled “BLUES” reaffirms this sentiment with the authority and attitude of an elder statesman.

While some may disagree, “BLACK CODES (FROM THE UNDERGROUND)” for me is undeniably one of his signature masterpieces. I say this because Marsalis is true to the music, he’s a warrior and loves the art of playing he urgently invokes the spirit of curiosity, and familiarity he provides a pleasurable listening experience that should satisfy the appetite for jazz enthusiasts everywhere.   

Personnel:    

  • Wynton Marsalis – trumpet.
  • Branford Marsalis – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone.
  • Kenny Kirkland – piano.
  • Charnett Moffett – double bass.
  • Jeff “Tain” Watts – drums.
  • Ron Carter – bass on Aural Oasis.

At your leisure, check out “BLACK CODES (FROM THE UNDERGROUND)” by Wynton Marsalis.

REFLECTION: Rendering classic jazz INFINITY by an amazing artist, pianist/composer McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner Trio, INFINITY (ORIGINALLY RELEASED: Jan. 1995)

When I think about great piano players, it is appropriate to say not just because of familiarity McCoy Tyner’s name rises among the top as significant, vibrant, and soulful players on the jazz scene regardless of era. Perhaps, it is easy to come to this conclusion because of his musical virtuosity undoubtedly speaks volumes. Case in point, in front of me is his brilliant 1995 recording “INFINITY” qualifies as a defining moment and a supreme choice for jazz collectors to embrace and listen to repeatedly.

Tyner paired his voice with some of the best to record INFINITY, bassist Avery Sharpe, drummer Aaron Scott, and saxophonist Michael Brecker appeared to combine their formidable gifts and presence to amplify originals such as “FLYING HIGH” to Monk’s bouncy “I MEAN YOU” featuring Brecker’s solo places firm exclamation point on it! Penned by Tyner, the palpable funk meets jazz sound is underscored on “HAPPY DAYS” and a pellucid rendition of Coltrane’s “IMPRESSIONS” features Brecker’s recognizable tone to this delectable palette of music.

As a player and composer, it is Tyner’s complex, bold, and soul-stirring vocabulary that integrates naturally. “MELLOW MINOR” an original yet vigorous piece at the number eight spot title does not match the tempo and far removed from being remotely relaxed (jamming). Moreover, this gem is solidified by saxophonist Michael Brecker’s rich vibrato and stimulating voice is undeniably icing on the cake. Tyner closes the session with his muscularly fluent touch (solo) and distinct stride is utterly amazing on the classic “GOOD MORNING HEARTACHE.” When an artist approaches timeless pieces like this is an opportunity to excel and make it your own or not and he met this challenge without breaking a sweat. ~Reviewed by Rob Young

At your leisure, listen to “INFINITY” a timeless classic by the legendary McCoy Tyner.

REFLECTION: the bopulicous “Night Dreamer” is considered the prodigious Blue Note Records debut by saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter, NIGHT DREAMER (RELEASED: April 29, 1964)

With four projects behind him, it was Shorter’s Blue Note debut “NIGHT DREAMER,” he came armed with a decisive strategy, poised and determined spirit with not only strands of wisdom from prior records but maximum smoke to six original compositions as a statement, footprint, and artistic voice to emerge as a beacon of light with a bright future in jazz waiting to envelop him. Influenced by Trane, he not only mirrored his style but it’s Shorter’s approach, and his writing skills showed unexpected maturity earned him a spot among the best. Therefore, to make this project manifest with unprecedented glory he called on the finest talent in the game, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, and Art Blakey to record this impressive head bopper titled “NIGHT DREAMER.”

As I listened intently, I’ve discovered Shorter’s voice and talent were sharpened and developed during his tenure with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The opening selection “NIGHT DREAMER,” and title track set the tone of what was yet to be unveiled throughout this thoughtful and mesmerizing collection of tunes. Even today, “ORIENTAL FOLK SONG” a favorite is a boss jam with each spin it draws me to the core of his stimulating tonality and solace that comes with his smoldering timbre. By now, any serious jazz aficionado is aware that Mr. Shorter has ascended beyond the shadows of expectation, great players and composers alike to become one of the most revered, and accomplished musicians and composers in jazz today.

At a glance, on “VIRGOShorter’s moaning bravado shimmers quietly yet he convincingly engages in harmonic nuances with a softly spoken zeal, thirst, and hunger. Next up, Shorter‘s bop-infectious “BLACK NILE” erupts with unmatched interplay provided by the stellar cast of musicians also shines a light on his unmatched valor as a seasoned player. On the hip-swaying “CHARCOAL BLUES,” Shorter makes his mark as a contender, one to reckon with as a certified bluesologist. He closes the session with the ambitious “ARMAGEDDON,” once more he demonstrates why he’s the new player in town with serious skills. As a student of jazz, Shorter showed critics right or wrong he met the challenge he learned to adapt these tools of the trade and mastered these gifts as an emerging voice landed with perfect-timing on Blue Note Records to give jazz enthusiast worldwide an earth-shaking masterpiece called “NIGHT DREAMER.”

Listen and discover why music lovers deem “NIGHT DREAMER” one of the best by Wayne Shorter.

REFLECTION: I’ve been thinking about the musical genius of pianist Ahmad Jamal lately, have you listened to any of his music recently?

Ahmad Jamal, LIVE AT MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL 1985 (Vinyl)

In the late 80s, my sister bought me a pair of tickets for my birthday to see pianist Ahmad Jamal at a local college. As a result, I was pleasantly in awe with anticipation of the event because this was the first time seeing him perform live. The hour and a half set was elevated by his eloquence yet graciousness, soulful style, and powerful interplay provided stoked a roar of applause from the audience who was hungry for more. Till this day the mere thought of this concert is truly mesmerizing.

Today’s album review is fitting, why? Because “LIVE AT THE MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL 1985” captures the essence of the live set I witnessed that cold night nestled in the foothills of the mountain terrain. Recorded and released on Atlantic Records, this gem incorporates eight palpable compositions three originals, and five masterpieces all worth the price of admission. To bring vitality to this moment, Mr. Jamal summons A-list players to join him in Montreal, bassist James Cammack, drummer Herlin Riley with percussionist Seldon Newton as a quartet these players brought the energy and superseded expectation.

As I revisited this tenacious jewel, I’m reminded of Jamal’s unique prowess that’s fluent while anchored to his impressive agility defines his voice as potent, unrivaled, and unmistakably influential on every level. The revered interplay showcased throughout this set demonstrates the importance of the musician’s skill to communicate as they exchange thought-provoking ideas with one another as they excel in their performance. ~Reviewed by Rob Young

You can listen to this amazing performance below

REFLECTION: Do you remember Brazilian trombonist/composer Raul de Souza?

Raul de Souza Generations Band, PLENITUDE (RELEASE: May 21, 2021)

I vividly recall the distinct yet brisk tonality provided by trombonist/composer Raul de Souza from his days playing with keyboardist George Duke, mostly his 1977 Brazilian, Jazz, and Funk flavored album “SWEET LUCY was the first of three followed by DON’T ASK MY NEIGHBORS & ‘TIL TOMORROW COMES (not available)” projects produced by Duke in the latter 70s. Until today, considering that he’s been recording since 1965 I was unaware of the Rio de Janeiro native’s impressive catalog that has unmeasurably blessed music lovers globally even though most of us only knew him during his short-lived success in North America.

Today, I’m thrilled to present the mysterious Raul de Souzas latest endeavor aptly titled “PLENITUDE” which by the way embodies the familiar accents, catchy hooks, and Latin rhythms he was known for. If contemporary jazz and fusion bend by contagious voicings of Latin jazz spread throughout is your bag, there are six interludes plus Souza serves up ten infectious gems guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating jazz enthusiasts.

Out of the box, Souza doesn’t hesitate for a moment with the sassy “NANA.” It burst right away with glowing and illuminating tones colored with Latin attributes. With an artist of his stature, his versatility is quickly exposed on “APESAR DE VOCE” which basked in the rhythmic brilliance of the aforementioned piece. A tune titled “DAISY MAE” adjacent to “NETINHA AURA” arrives it seems out of nowhere as my overall favorites are explorative, robust, and punctuated by contemporary accents. What I hear underscored through this magnificent recording is Souza’s uncanny gift to layer alluring tones, contoured shapes, polychromatic lyricism evitably captures your attention with every evolving note makes this album a poetically appealing, beautiful, and joyous listening experience. ~Reviewed by Rob Young

Check it out, as time allows listen to PLENTITUDE by trombonist/composer Raul de Souza

REFLECTION: Trumpeter/composer Gregori Hollis’ new album “LANDING” recently caught my attention…

From the outset, “LANDING” unexpectedly unraveled trumpeter, and composer Gregori Hollis‘ swift chameleon-like phrases on his horn matched with his notable writing skills navigates with ease into one’s listening space and before you know it you find yourself wanting to dive deeper into this colorful tapestry of modern jazz meets Latin music.

Gregori Hollis’ LANDING (RELEASED: April 13, 2021)

On this winsome collection of eight original pieces, right away you’re bound to find yourself focusing on several if not all selections to be quite pleasing to the ear. Hollis brilliantly marries the cherished elements of jazz and Latin music seamlessly as one cohesive voice to paint a picture-perfect soundscape from start to finish. One of my favorites is the punchy “PUJA D’ESTIU,” this sassy gem glistens out of the gate. The Salsa-driven “QUE SUENE DANZON” at number 5 rhythmic sequences will draw even none dancers into the pulse of this hip-swaying piece.

“LANDING” appears at the sixth spot, as hoped for the title piece rhythmic tones, sharp brass, swag, and choppy flavors are indeed the sauce, the real deal worth the price of admission. I say this, with “LANDING” trumpeter/composer Gregori Hollis brought his signature fused with the right textures, shapes, and colors provide and open path and a bright future ahead. ~Reviewed by Rob Young

REFLECTION: Some critics have described the album Leaning into the Night (Inclinado en la Noche) as “watered down nouveau flamenco” by guitarist Ottmar Liebert, what do you think?

In today’s REFLECTION, it’s always interesting to hear or see someone’s perspective. In this case, the music of guitarist Ottmar Leibert. Over the years, I’ve grown into being a novice to listen to various styles or genres of music, his voice fits well within the scope of intimate and sounds worth exploring. At the moment, this my first meeting with “LEANING INTO THE NIGHT (INCLINADO EN LA NOCHE).” What I discovered here, is a calming soundscape that illuminates with perils of romanticism. As a result, this carefully constructed narrative is developed by an appointed yet timely lyricism note by note frames an inviting atmosphere to savor for if only a temporary cure for restlessness souls who are open listen.

Ottmar Liebert’s‘ LEARNING INTO THE NIGHT

At your leisure, escape into the appealing nuances of LEARNING

Back with another “Reflection,” this time looking back to recall “ON THE MILKY WAY EXPRESS” by pianist Rachel Z …

Released in 2000, pianist/composer Rachel Z gave us an album called “ON THE MILKY WAY EXPRESS” dedicated to legendary saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter. In this collection, there are ten familiar compositions to adsorb. With this material, the masterful Ms. Z boldly approaches each tune with her melodic touch and glides effortlessly across the keys with new ideas to breathe new life into these timeless pieces as I vividly recall her time spent in the mid-90s in a different context with the formidable jazz ensemble Steps Ahead.

Rachel Z TRIO’s ON THE MILKY WAY EXPRESS

The ladies of jazz, well, as you know as musicians simply don’t get a lot of respect which is as you can imagine is totally uncalled for. It’s sort of like comparing classic jazz with modern, it’s a waste of time. Rachel’s time in the shed proves that she’s a viable artist, her catalog over the years offers a variety of music that speaks for itself. With ON MILKY WAY, Rachel occupies these tunes with intensity yet her fresh interpretations of these gems as only as an artist of her caliber can. Of course, having quality backup players are always an added plus. To make the magic happen, she called on gifted bassist Miriam Sullivan and the swift drumming by Allison Miller both serve up invigorating and insightful interplay resurrect these gems in a meaningful way that makes this recording well worth a closer look and listen.

Listen too ON THE MILKY WAY EXPRESS by Rachel Z TRIO