MTV Artists

Millions of artists.
Your pocket.
One app.
Download now

Download on the App Store Stay in
My Browser


An often remarkable and inventive bebop and hard bop pianist, Walter Davis Jr. once left the music world to be a tailor, but returned. A solid soloist, bandleader, and accompanist, he amassed a good body of work while never becoming a high-profile name even within the jazz community. Davis played with Babs Gonzales' Three Bips & a Bop as a teen, then moved from Richmond to New York in the early '50s. He played with Max Roach and Charlie Parker, recording with Roach in 1953. He joined Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1956, and toured the Middle East and South America. He also played in Paris with Donald Byrd in 1958 and with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers in 1959. After retiring from music for a while to run his tailor shop, Davis returned in the '60s, producing records and writing arrangements for a local New Jersey group. He studied music in India in 1969, and played with Sonny Rollins in the early '70s. Davis had another stint with the Jazz Messengers in 1975, then led his own group in New York. Davis recorded for Blue Note, Mapleshade, Debut, Denon, and Red and for various French labels. He did sessions with Roach, Rollins, Sonny Criss, Jackie McLean, Pierre Michelot, Archie Shepp, Kenny Clarke, Byrd, and Blakey, among others. Some Davis dates are available on CD. ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi