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Versatile Bassist, Educator and PsychologistCopyright © 2007
A symphonic bassist who also played with top-rank jazz and pop musicians, Art Davis died of a heart attack at his home on July 29. He was 73.
A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Davis studied piano and tuba before adopting the bass at 15. After studying with the principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra he attended the Manhattan School of Music and Julliard, all the while playing jazz at night.
He performed with Max Roach for several months in 1958-59, and then toured Europe with Dizzy Gillespie. He also recorded with Booker Little, Quincy Jones, Roland Kirk, Oliver Nelson and Freddie Hubbard, but he was perhaps best remembered for his work with John Coltrane in 1961 and on the long-unreleased tracks for A Love Supreme in 1964. Outside of jazz, Davis also played with Judy Garland and the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.
In 1962, Davis began a decade of broadcast studio work, playing successively with the NBC, Westinghouse and CBS orchestras.
In 1971, he returned to academia, teaching at Manhattan Community College and attaining degrees from Hunter College and CUNY. In 1975, he published a influential book on bass technique.
Denied work during a long discrimination suit against the New York Philharmonic, he turned to a career in psychology, obtaining a PhD in clinical psychology from New York University in 1981.
In later years, Davis led his own groups and recorded with Hilton Ruiz.
Davis is survived by sons Kimaili and Mureithi, and his daughter Taisha Jack. His wife, Gladys, pre-deceased him in 1995.