About Founder, Richard Davis

Richard Davis is well known throughout the music world for his success in bringing the bass to new heights as a solo instrument in both classical and jazz traditions. His virtuosity has caused international audiences to develop a new appreciation of the purity, melodic beauty and power of the bass sound.

An artist par excellence in technique and range, Mr. Davis is well known among double bassists as one of the great pioneers of the instrument. Possessing rich symphonic training and diverse background, he demonstrates extraordinary technique. Yet this technique does not overpower his imaginative interpretation. A list of contemporary artists for whom Mr. Davis has provided his rich, resonant bass sound reads like a Who’s Who of this segment of the music world–Stan Getz, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Burrell, McCoy Tyner, The Manhattan Transfer, Eric Dolphy, John Lennon, Chick Corea, Bruce Springsteen and a host of other notables. Through performances, recordings, composition and teaching, Mr. Davis remains a major force in jazz, an art form that is uniquely American.

Known as an excellent classical musician with exceptional bowing technique, Mr. Davis is equally at home In the world of classical music. He has played under the batons of Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Gunther Schuller, and Leonard Bernstein. Onstage after a 1975 concert in Boston, the great composer Igor Stravinsky walked through the orchestra to lay his hand on Mr. Davis’ shoulder in a tribute rarely accorded a bassist-or any other orchestra member-by the Maestro himself.

Bom in Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Davis spent 23 years living and working in New York City, solidly establishing himself as one of the world’s premier bassists. From 1967 through 1974 he was chosen as winner of the Down Beat magazine’s International Critic’s Poll – Best Bassist. He has recorded well over a dozen albums as a leader and featured artist for various record labels. He has also traveled and performed throughout Europe and Japan. A tenured Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin in Madison since 1977, in addition to maintaining a busy schedule as a clinician, performer and adjudicator. Mr. Davis empowers the rising generation of bass artists through his own vision, courage and creativity in bass music performance.

In April of 1994 Mr. Davis launched what could literally be his most enduring commitment to the bass. He formed his not-for-profit Foundation for Young Bassists in order to bring together young bass students, their parents, teachers and masters, and other friends of the bass, to revolutionize the teaching and support provided to young bassists. Mr. Davis is determined to ensure that the instrument he first picked up and played In Chicago over 50 years ago remains a major force in our music.

Mr. Davis’ teaching philosophy Is simple: “I keep them feeling good about what they’re doing.” he explains, “I don’t criticize anything. I say ‘Listen, let’s try it this way and see how it sounds.’ Their way is one way – then I try to get them to imagine another way. And sometimes I’ll just say, ‘What do you want to do?’ I ask them a lot of questions because I want them to think, think, think. I don’t want to give them the impression that everything they learn has to come from the person teaching them.” He adds, “Whatever I know I like to share with people, because when you share you’re teaching yourself all over again.”

Mr. Davis was a recipient of the 2001 Wisconsin Governor’s Award in Support ofthe Arts,