Richard Davis |
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Richard Davis


  • Fellow
  • 2004
Arts, Music

Musician Richard Davis performs internationally and is Professor of Bass (European Classical and Jazz), Jazz History and Combo Improvisation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Chicago-born, he came to the UW-Madison in 1977 after spending 23 years in New York City establishing himself as one of the world's premier bass players. DownBeat magazine's International Critics' Poll named him Best Bassist from 1967-74. He has recorded a dozen albums as a leader and 2000 recordings/jingles as a sideman. Some of his performance/recording credits include Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal and a host of other notables.

In June 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that Prof. Davis had been selected as a 2014 NEA Jazz Master, the nation's highest honor in the field of jazz.  Jazz Masters are selected for lifetime achievement and "exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz."

In 2008, Richard Davis received the MAMA (Madison Area Music Award), Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award, Human Rights Award (Rev. James C. Wright), "FIGS" 2008 First Interest Group Students (Freshman Year), the TRIO award/first in family to go to college/Awarded by Caroline McCormack. In 2009, he received the Exceptional Service Award at the UW-Madison (Gary Sandefur, Dean) and the Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts (Wisconsin Historical Society).

As a faculty member at UW-Madison, Davis elected in 1998 to form Retention Action Project (R.A.P.), the main goal of which is to educate all students toward multicultural competency. He has facilitated many conversations on racial and class issues in his home, colleges, municipal agencies, etc.

Prof. Davis initiated the S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) on the UW-Madison campus. He has also initiated a chapter in Madison of the Institutes for the Healing of Racism, Inc. with the intent to introduce the oneness of humankind to the UW, Madison Metropolitan School District, Police, Fire departments and community churches.

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Wisconsin Academy Offices 
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Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
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Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25