Bill Davis

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Organ, piano. A powerhouse player and personality, and among the rare organists equally good in big or small groups. Davis' father, a vocalist, was his first music teacher. He later studied formally at…
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Organ, piano. A powerhouse player and personality, and among the rare organists equally good in big or small groups. Davis' father, a vocalist, was his first music teacher. He later studied formally at Tuskegee Institute and Wiley College before moving to Chicago, where he was an arranger and guitarist in Milt Larkin's orchestra from 1939 to 1942. He then served as an arranger for Earl Hines in 1943, and two years later joined Louis Jordan's group, where he was an arranger and pianist until 1949. Davis began playing organ after leaving Jordan, and formed a trio in 1951. He scored a huge hit as an arranger with "April In Paris," which Count Basie recorded from an adapted version he'd penned for his group. During the '60s, Davis recorded with Johnny Hodges and Ella Fitzgerald, and later toured with Duke Ellington for two years. During that time he was Ellington's second pianist, organist and arranger. Through the '70s and '80s, Davis stayed busy as a soloist. He recorded in Paris with Buddy Tate, Al Grey and Slam Stewart, worked with Lionel Hampton, and led his own group, appearing frequently at festivals throughout Europe.