Let us begin with beautiful perceptive words from Jon-Erik Kellso:
Eddy Davis passed away. I’m trying to wrap my head around this fact.
In a week of many heartbreaking losses to the music community, this one hits closest to home for me. I’ve been playing with Eddy since I moved to New York thirty years ago, including a weekly steady for several of those years.
Eddy enriched so many people’s lives; he loved to perform, and loved connecting with the audience and with musicians. The unabashed, unbridled joy he bubbled over with when making music was infectious (pardon my choice of word, I just can’t think of a better way to describe it).
I learned many songs from Eddy, often on the fly, on the bandstand. He loved playing and singing songs in a stream of consciousness flow, as he knew an incredible amount of songs, in ALL styles. He loved encouraging musicians to jump in and pick them up by ear, often calling out the chord names *while* singing and playing the off-the-beaten-path song. Talk about multi-tasking!
He once told me that he tried to compose music *every* day. He wrote a lot of terrific music, jazz, show tunes, Brazilian style, all kinds. He wrote lyrics to older instrumental songs by Ellington, Armstrong, and others.
He was a wonderful player, singer, bandleader, and storyteller. He led a very full and fascinating life, which included leading the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band (featuring Woody Allen on clarinet) for decades.
Like many of my musical heroes and mentors, he did not suffer fools gladly. He was very opinionated, but also very generous, encouraging, kind and fun-loving. He simply could not contain his passion for traditional jazz and the Great American Songbook, and that came out in his tremendous rhythmic drive, and in his ability to spur on any band he was in to greater heights than they knew they could achieve.
Miss you already, Edgy (one of many nicknames he had, including “the Manhattan Minstrel,” and “Greenmeat”)!
Thanks a million! 🍻🪕🎤🎺🎼🎶🎵🔥💯
– Lead Boy (his nickname for me, as he loved the way I play the lead in a traditional jazz ensemble, I’m proud to say)
For those of you who didn’t know of Eddy’s moving to another neighborhood, I invite you to read about it here (a post which contains previously unseen videos and a heartfelt essay by Scott Robinson).
And I can present one of my musical meetings with Eddy — they didn’t happen often enough, but they were always memorable. This one took place at the Ear Inn (326 Spring Street) where the Blessed EarRegulars played every Sunday night since summer 2007 — and where they will reassemble again, soon, I hope.
For this session, the four heroes are Eddy, banjo, vocal; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone; Jens “Jesse” Lindgren, trombone, vocal. My notes tell me that this happened on December 27, 2015. But it’s right now. Here are two beauties from that night.
W.C. Handy’s adaptation of a folk melody or a hymn, HESITATING BLUES, with an earnest vocal by Eddy and a vocalized solo by Jon through his glass mute:
And here’s Jesse’s version of the lovely song PLEASE (Leo Robin – Ralph Rainger) forever associated with Bing Crosby:
May your happiness increase!