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Nathan Davis (saxophonist)

Nathan Davis (saxophonist)

American hard bop jazz musician
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Jazz musician Saxophonist
Countries United States of America
Gender male
Birth February 15, 1937 (Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas, U.S.A.)
Education Wesleyan University
The details

Nathan Davis (born February 15, 1937) is an American hard bop jazz multi-instrumentalist who plays the tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and flute. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Davis is probably best known for his work with Eric Dolphy, Kenny Clarke, Ray Charles, Slide Hampton and Art Blakey.

Nathan traveled extensively around Europe after the war and moved to Paris in 1962. He holds a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University and has been a professor of music and director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh since 1969, an academic program that he helped to initiate. He is also founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Annual Jazz Seminar and Concert, the first academic jazz event of its kind in the country. He also helped to found the university's William Robinson Recording Studio as well as establish the International Academy of Jazz Hall of Fame located in the school's William Pitt Union and the University of Pittsburgh-Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives. Davis, who retired in 2013 as director of the Jazz Studies Program at Pitt, now has Professor Emeritus status at the university. Davis also served as the editor of the International Jazz Archives Journal.

One of Davis' best known musical associations was heading the Paris Reunion Band (1985-1989), which at different times included Nat Adderley, Kenny Drew, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton, Joe Henderson, Idris Muhammad, Dizzy Reece, Woody Shaw, and Jimmy Woode. Davis also toured and recorded with the post-bop ensemble leading Roots which he formed in 1991.

Davis has also composed various pieces, including a 2004 opera entitled "Just Above My Head".

On October 5, 2013 Davis was awarded the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.


As leader

  • 1965: The Hip Walk (with Jimmy Woode, Kenny Clarke, Francy Boland, Carmell Jones)
  • 1965: Peace Treaty (with Woody Shaw, Jean-Louis Chautemps, René Urtreger, Jimmy Woode, Kenny Clarke)
  • 1965: Happy Girl (with Woody Shaw, Larry Young, Jimmy Woode, Billy Brooks)
  • 1967: The Rules of Freedom (with Hampton Hawes, Jimmy Garrison, Art Taylor)
  • 1969: Jazz Concert in a Benedictine monastery
  • 1971: Makatuka (with Mike Taylor, Virgil Walters, Joe Kennedy, Don Depaotis, Nelson Harrison, Wheeler Winstead)
  • 1972: 6th Sense In The 11th House (with Richard Davis, Alan Dawson, Roland Hanna)
  • 1976: Suite for Dr. Martin Luther King
  • 1976: If (with Abraham Laboriel, George Caldwell, Dave Palmar, Willie Amoaku)
  • 1982: Faces of Love
  • 1987: London by Night
  • 1996: Nathan Davis
  • 1998: Two Originals: Happy Girl & Hip Walk
  • 1999: I'm A Fool To Want You
  • 2003: Rules of Freedom
  • 2006: Happy Girl
  • 2009: The Best of 1965-76
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