It’s Friday afternoon, so you’re probably at work, tapping your toes and browsing the internet while you anxiously count down the minutes until you can leave the office and get your weekend started. As you wait, why not check out our Feature Friday about New England jazz trombonist, Steve Davis!
Davis grew up in Binghampton, New York, where jazz was an integral part of his family’s household. He then went on to attend the Hartt School of the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where he was nicknamed Stevie-D by the late jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. McLean, who served as Davis’s mentor, recommended him to the Jazz Messengers group, which he joined in 1989. Later, Davis went on to lead his own bands in New York City.
Davis’s hard-swinging style has brought him widespread recognition and he has performed at a variety of impressive international venues, such as the Jimmy Fallon Show, where he appeared with Steve Wonder, and the White House Tribute to Ray Charles!
So, how did this talented musician get to where he is today? Well, we’ve got all the answers you’re craving right here in this exclusive interview with the illustrious Stevie-D!
How did music influence your life growing up?
I realized at an early age that music would always love you as much as you loved it! Music (jazz, in particular) was and remains a constant source of joy and togetherness in my family’s household and in the community (schools, clubs, theaters, outdoor venues, etc.). I’ve always known that music is what I love most. It’s one of the purist forms of expression & communication. I can’t imagine a more direct a vehicle than music for making personal connections in life.
What is one of your favorite live performance experiences?
Hearing great bands in NYC during the mid-late 1980’s such as The Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet or The Timeless All-Stars feat. Curtis Fuller, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, The Jackie McLean Quintet, The J.J. Johnson Quintet, The George Coleman Quartet, The Tony Williams Quintet… at clubs such as Sweet Basil, The Village Vanguard, Fat Tuesday’s, Mikell’s… these were absolutely thrilling performances to witness by musicians who have had a profound influence on me and so many others.
As a performer, there are so many moments and great musicians… playing with Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern, Larry Willis, Gary Bartz, Buster Williams, Louis Hayes, Joe Ford… Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Eddie Henderson, Nat Reeves, Ron Carter, The Gillespie All-Star Band, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, Peter Washington, Joe Farnsworth & One For All… Mike DiRubbo, Josh Bruneau, Matt Dwonzsyk, Jonathan Barber… Tony Davis… Abena Koomson-Davis… these have all been very special experiences in my life as a musician!
What is your favorite season/time of year?
Do you have any particular influences you think are noticeable in your playing style?
Lyrical players and singers… pianists… I love pretty melodies, deep chords… and a good groove. It has to be swingin’ hard!
5. What is your favorite book or movie?
Difficult to choose any one favorite… there are so many! I love the HBO Series “The Wire.” I’ve also enjoyed “The Good Lord Bird.”
6. What’s your advice to young musicians just starting out?
Enjoy what you’re doing with music. Listen, listen… Practice, practice…. work hard, of course! Also, remember to have fun with your fellow musicians. Playing music is a communal endeavor… and there is no “winner”. Be a good host to the notes… they’re just passing through. The notes have been around way before any of us and will be around after we’re dust. As Larry Willis would say, “The music is not about you, him, her… d***ed sure not about me. It’s about IT!” Then he would point upward toward the heavens.
Night is Alive is lucky enough to feature Steve Davis on our Lovers & Love Songs
album, which is a collection of heartwarming melodies that tell a modern love story.
Lovers & Love Songs is available in our store and on all major music platforms!