Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
A former student of Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Jesse Davis is one the most respected musicians in New Orleans. In addition to leading his own group, Davis has performed with such stellar jazz musicians as Jack McDuff, Major Holley, Cecil Payne, Illinois Jacquet, Chico Hamilton, Junior Mance, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, Nicholas Payton, and Roy Hargrove. He toured in 1996 along with Phil Woods, Charles McPherson, and Gary Bartz in the group Sax Machine. Playing saxophone since the age of 11, when he received his first instrument from his tuba-playing brother, Davis initially dreamed of becoming a professional football player. Turning to music after breaking his collarbone, he received a full scholarship to study music at Northeastern Illinois University. He continued his studies briefly at William Patterson College in Wayne, New Jersey, before transferring to the New School in New York, where he studied with jazz historian Ira Gitler. While still a student, he received awards for his solo performances at Notre Dame, Wichita State, N.Y.U., Southern University, and Loyola. In 1989, he received a Most Outstanding Musician award at the Down Beat Music Festival in Philadelphia. Recording with his own quartet since 1991, Davis led the band in more than 50 shows in Spain, France, Italy, and the U.K. in 1993, 1994, and 1995. He returned to New Orleans in 1996. Davis made his acting debut in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.