Richard Davis

Richard Davis is an internationally performing musician. He is also a Professor of Bass (European Classical, Jazz), Jazz History, and combo Improvisation at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Chicago-born, he arrived at the UW–Madison in 1978 after 23 years living in New York City. He quickly established himself as one the most respected bass players in the world. He was voted the Best Bassist by Downbeat International Critics Poll from 1967 to 1974. He recorded 12 albums as a leader, and 3000 recordings/jingles sidemen. Some of his performance/recording credits include Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Don Sebesky, Oliver Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal and a host of other notables. He is equally comfortable in the world euro classical music. He has played under the tutelages of George Szell and Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky (Pierre Boulez), Gunther Schuller, Leonard Bernstein, and Gunther Schuller. He is a versatile bassist who is in constant demand for concert appearances around the world. He has been a popular performer in Japan, Europe and Russia for nearly 50 years. His May 2000 CD, The Bassists Homage To Diversity (King Records), was recorded in Japan. This CD was inspired from experiences related to diversity dialog. King Records’ second CD, So in Love, was recorded with the intention of accepting the oneness and humanity of all peoples. In 1993, he founded the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, Inc. which annually brings in 17 masterful bass instructors/performers to teach young bassists ages 3-18.In 1998 he created the Retention Action Project (R.A.P.) He was interested in open dialogues on subjects that would educate us all to multi-cultural differences. R.A.P. R.A.P. Prof. Davis is committed to equity issues. He shares his knowledge, home and resources freely with all in order to create a place where everyone can feel dignity and peace. He also started a Madison chapter of the “Institutes for the Healing of Racism,” Inc. Prof. Davis received honorary doctorate degrees for Musical Arts and Humane Letters and the Hilldale Award for distinguished instruction from Donna Shalala, former Chancellor. In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters at Edgewood College in Madison. He was awarded the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian award by the Rotary Club of Madison in 2000. He was awarded the Governor’s of Wisconsin Arts Award in 2001. Mayor Susan J.M. presented Dr. Richard Davis with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian award, which is bestowed each year by Madison. Mayor Susan J.M. presented the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award to Dr. Richard Davis during the 18th Annual City-County Celebration of Dr. King’s Birth at Madison Civic Center on Monday, January 3, 2003. Interview: In 2008 Richard Davis was awarded the MAMA (Madison Area Music Award Michael St. John Achievement Award), Human Rights Award (Rev.James C. Wright), “FIGS 2008 First Interest Group Student (Freshman year), and the TRIO award/first family member to go to College/Awarded to Caroline McCormack. He was awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison 2009 Exceptional Service Award (Gary Sandefur Dean) and the Spencer Tracy Award of Distinction for the Performing Arts (Wisconsin Historical Society). Davis is a world-renowned bass player. His music has touched the lives countless people. His teaching has inspired generations of students both in the classroom and with the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, Inc., a program that provides musical instruction for economically challenged youth. Although the famed jazz professor and jazz master could have ended his life there, his passion for social change and the healing of racism has transformed the lives of all who have responded to his invitation to “open their hearts, minds, and spirits to the history, pathology, and hope of racism within.” (Neil Heinen, Spectrum). from

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