Jesse Davis [alto saxophone]
Alto saxophonist Jesse Davis is one of the top contemporary Jazz stars coming out of New Orleans, where he was born in 1965. He followed in the tradition of the Marsalis family and other Jazz musicians from the Crescent City. Not surprisingly, he studied with Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts. Jesse showed signs of musical talent at an early age: when he was eleven, his brother Roger (an accomplished tuba player) bought Jesse a saxophone and taught him how to play it. He went on to study with Ellis Marsalis, whose teachings inspired him to become a music student at North-eastern Illinois University on a full scholarship. Eventually, he transferred to William Patterson College in New Jersey and then to the New School in New York City, enrolling in their Jazz and Contemporary Music Program. There he was a student of noted Jazz historian Ira Gitler, who says that … Jesse stood out in the crowd. Through his college years, Davis won awards as outstanding soloist at Jazz Festivals, including Notre Dame, Wichita State, New York University, Southern University and Loyola. In 1989 he won the prestigious Most Outstanding Musician award at the Down Beat Music Fest in Philadelphia. As a sideman, Jesse gained experience with Jack McDuff, Major Holley, Cecil Payne, Illinois Jacquet, Jay McShann, Chico Hamilton, Junior Mance, Kenny Barron, Tete Montoliu, Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, Tana-Reid, The Newport All Stars, Roy Hargrove, The Marlboro Super-band, Milt Jackson, Hank Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Woods, Charles McPherson, Gary Bartz, Charles Tolliver, Lenny White, Buster Williams and a long list of top Jazz Artists. Jesse returned to New Orleans in 1996, after being a New York resident for almost a decade. 1996 also saw Jesse’s debut as an actor, playing the role of classic alto saxophonist Earl Warren in the celebrated Robert Altman’s movie Kansas City.