University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin people & ideas
Volume 52, Number 2 (Spring 2006)

Drayton, Michele
The champ,   pp. 13-19


Page 19

richard davis 
have learned a lot about different 
people's experiences in our community 
due to skin color. And it has been moti- 
vating to learn how I can change these 
conditions in my life and in the climate 
of our community," says Valentine. 
Another new trainee, Sarah Galanter, 
a kindergarten teacher in Madison, says 
she is able to apply lessons learned at 
the institute in her interaction with chil- 
dren and parents at her school. "I'm 
now more confident in talking with 
parents of color about race issues," she 
says. "I'll make suggestions for involving 
them in the classroom and not be afraid 
to say that we want and need their pres- 
ence as African American parents." 
No platform, however, takes Davis far 
away from the music. With all he does- 
including running a yearly conference 
for about 100 young bassists-he 
manages to perform and record. His 
work with IPO Recordings on two highly 
regarded recent CDs, With Malice 
Toward None and One More-Music of 
Thad Jones, drew plaudits from jazz 
critics. 
"Musicians like Richard and the 
others who we are fortunate enough to 
get for these sessions are a national 
treasure, the last of the 'first generation' 
jazz greats who participated in the 
creation of so much of the music as we 
know it," says IPO label founder William 
Sorin. 
Fellow musician Ben Sidran, a friend 
of Davis's since 1978, also recognizes 
Davis's place in the nation's jazz history. 
"He is a dedicated professional of the 
old school, a man who has been on the 
front lines and in the trenches of the 
jazz wars and has a lot to teach about 
both music and culture," says Sidran. 
Always in Davis's work is that spark 
toward a new direction, a better way. 
His solo work, especially with the bow, 
reveals a masterful musician and a man 
of great sensitivity and unfettered 
emotion. 
His vision of diversity brought him to 
the following musical selections on his 
CD The Bassist Homage to Diversity: 
" Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," to 
represent the merging of a religious 
and jazz performance; 
" "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," to 
whet the ear for more from the bril- 
liant composer Billy Strayhorn, who 
Davis notes was gay; 
" "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which 
brought to mind, Davis says, a 13-year- 
old whose hugs made 80-year-old 
nursing home residents feel loved; and 
" the jazz tune "Little Benny," to recog- 
nize black men and women musicians 
who roundly scuttled any notion that 
theirs was an inferior music. 
Davis's inclusive vision of humanity 
comes to an even fuller expression in 
his CD So in Love, which has the depth 
and feel of a post-9/11 meditation. 
"Hate transformed into love is the 
only journey I can see that we all should 
take," writes Davis in the liner notes. 
"After all, we are all related to each 
other. I dedicate this CD to the oneness 
of humankind in the hope that we are 
curious enough to know what that 
journey would feel like." * 
Michele Drayton is a former staff writer 
for daily newspapers and a former 
announcer/producer for WMNF 88.5 FM 
in Tampa, Florida. Her freelance work 
has appeared in newspapers, magazines, 
and the book God Just Showed Up: 
Stories of Hope in Everyday 
Experiences (Moody Press). 
WISCONS IN  PEOPLE  &  IDEA 
"Davis is a dedicated professional of the old school, a 
man who has been on the front lines and in the 
trenches of the jazz wars and has a lot to teach about 
music and culture," says fellow musician Ben Sidran. 
S P R ING  2 00 6  19 


Go up to Top of Page