May 30, 2006

Jamie Davis: a REAL good thing!

In the history of jazz, there are several instrumentalists and vocalists that clearly display all of the characteristics commensurate with being not only gifted as musicians, but also blessed with the ability to express themselves with a complete understanding of the history of their art. Such is the case with phenomenal jazz vocalist Jamie Davis.

Jamie Davis’ musical exposure began at the start of a time when the creativity of musical variety and styles were quickly broadening. His father’s Pentecostal Church provided Jamie with a primary focus of spiritual music. By the time he was in elementary school, Jamie started singing in the church choir and soon after, began performing as it’s soloist. Even at so young an age, Jamie was an ardent lover and keen student of numerous collections of music. Being gifted with such a rich baritone voice, Jamie’s family allowed him every opportunity to make full use of it. By age 13, a band composed mostly of extended family members and friends was formed. The band afforded him opportunities to experiment with such secular forms as spiritually tamed ballads and some early rhythm and blues.

Jamie’s musical tastes were being deepened and broadened under the influences of older siblings, especially a sister who introduced him to jazz and had him listening to the ‘soul’ sounds and stylings of such artists as Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Al Green and Lou Rawls. These singers formed the basis for the next step of his progressing interest; the ‘soul’-centered jazz of those years being played by Milt Jackson, Horace Silver and especially Jimmy Smith. Jamie took in the live performances of these and many other jazz musicians during his frequent visits to New York, while still in his teens. Consequently, by the time he was 16, Jamie had already included swing ballads, rhythm and blues and ’soul;’ music he was regularly performing as a member of a band throughout his high school years in Mansfield, Ohio.

At Ohio State University, Jamie majored in music and became a member of the ‘Chamber Players,’ a group which performed a variety of classical choral music sung in varied languages. The singing of liturgical music in Latin, of compositions in French by Rameau and songs in German by Bach, Schuman and Mahler, obliged Jamie to make use of his rich, full bass-baritone voice. The university experience added one more dimension to his diverse, enlarging musical education.

In the U.S. Army, Jamie became a member of ’Government Issue,’ an elite group of singers in Special Services, who mostly toured military bases performing, in solo and in chorus, a broad variety of songs: standard hits, swing ballads, show tunes, and some light jazz and blues. These experiences allowed him to work on high baritone timbre and range, to refine his phrasing, and to experiment with vastly different musical forms.

Later, Jamie returned to Ohio where he became a member of the 13 piece band that played in colleges, clubs and other venues throughout the Ohio area. To advance his professionalism, he then moved to New York to study under the renowned Harlem vocal coach, Edward Boatner, whose training exercises helped in refining Jamie’s range, diction and phrasing. During those New York years, he also went to the famous Sigma Sounds Studio in Philadelphia for the practice and experience of recording rhythm and blue tapes with the backing of the MSFB Studio Orchestra.

In 1975, Jamie arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area where he continued in his career by forming two groups simultaneously – ‘Jamco’ a rhythm and blues band and the ‘Jamie Davis Quartet’ – which together allowed him to exploit the wide range of his vocal talent. With another rhythm and blues group, ‘Paradise,’ he also sang at various places on their tour of the western states. Over the years up to the present, working under independent contract, Jamie has performed scores of ’casuals’ appearing with such renowned musicians as Milt Jackson, Eddie Henderson, Dave Lieberman, Melba Moore, Allen Smith, Vernon Alley and Pharoah Saunders.
Jamie’s full deep baritone served him in another setting when he was asked to voice the narration for ‘A Time to Remember,’ a docudrama which won the 1997 Black American Independent Filmmakers Award.

Europe was the scene for Jamie Davis in the late nineties, traveling with some of that region’s finest musicians. Working in Rome, Madrid, Venice, Verona, Genoa, then onto Munich, Stuttgart and Bern, afforded Jamie’s break into the scene of the international jazz kats. While in Milan he recorded a CD as the featured singer of the group ‘Higher Standards.’

Because of his steady accomplishments over the years in the San Francisco area jazz scene, Jamie Davis was invited to appear in the prestigious ‘Bay Area’s Giants of Jazz’ photograph, a 1999 event inspired by the acclaimed, historical ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ photo of 1952.
In 2000, Jamie received the call of a lifetime, and was asked to join the Count Basie Orchestra. The first gig was at Munich Philharmonic Hall and it was on! The next three years was spent traveling worldwide, doing shows with the likes of Nancy Wilson, Patty Austin, George Benson, Wallace Rodney, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Dianne Reeves, Buster Williams and Jimmy Cobbs, just to mention a few. The gigs were in places such as Paris, Monte Carlo, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Oslo, Baden Baden (Germany), Lisbon and New York City, as well as all over many other parts of the United States.

His first solo CD, “It’s All About Love,” was released in late February 2002 with rave reviews. This CD features all beautiful love ballads, which is Jamie’s forte.
In 2004, Jamie went back to Europe, then onto Dubai (United Arab Emirates), where he headlined with the European Band at the Dubai International Jazz Festival. That festival afforded Jamie the opportunity to work with Billy Cobham and Toots Tillman. The show was a smash hit!

Jamie’s second release, “It’s A Good Thing” will be released June 13, 2006 on Unity-Music and carried by Bayside Distribution, a division of Tower Records.

For more information on Jamie Davis, please visit

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