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Dr. Art Davis

I've been wanting to post something up here about Art Davis, but haven't been able to find the right words. A friend of mine (Alexi David, an amazing bass player himself) emailed me a few days after the news was out and asked me, "Didn't you know him?" I wrote this reply in what seemed to be only seconds. This says it all and I figured I would just post it:

Yeah, I can't believe it. I've been thinking of him a lot recently and even had Nature Boy (Coltrane Quartet Plays...) on the turntable when I found out. My neighbors must have heard me gasp out loud. Man, it hurts.
He was a guiding light for me and encouraged me to play, write and even go to the New School. He was there to help show me the way when I came to a crossroads in my life, as if fate had stepped in. I'll always attribute it to divine intervention. I wrote a tune a couple of years ago as a tribute to him called 'Interstellar Beacon'. He was one of the kindest people I have ever met, and definitely the kindest and most giving of all the so-called 'legendary' figures of the music I have encountered.

I met him at a community college in California where he was teaching (among several teaching gigs he had at various schools). He always had great stories and introduced me to musicians who played with him. I asked him about musicians, the session he did with John Gilmore; I'd tell him about shows that I would check out and he would ask me if I talked to the musicians, like Pharaoh Sanders. He would say, almost like a grandfather giving a little nudge, "Yes, he's approachable. Tell him you're a friend of mine." He would mention how that was the tradition of the music, but would remark on how some musicians were so unapproachable; he'd just smile and laugh. He was super positive and everyone always had a great feeling when around him. He studied psychology (Dr. Davis - even studied experimental psychology) and could really read people. I swear, a couple of times it seemed like he could read minds!! I hadn't talked to him in several months and feel like total sh*t about that. I've been wanting to call him but have still been avoiding telling him I left school, I didn't want to let him down. I was being stupid and trying to build up the nerve to call. Now I wish I had just called him. He was a champion for a lot of things and a real hero to me. For some reason I called his cell phone on Sunday and got his normal message, I was tempted to leave him a goodbye message but couldn't get the words out.

I met Odean Pope (who Art Davis would speak very highly about), a couple of months ago and I can't believe I didn't even tell Dr. Davis about that incredible meeting. Odean sat down with me and talked for a while after one of his trio performances in Philadelphia, he even brought up the possibility of me playing in his saxophone choir at some point in the future, right out of the blue! (he was probably just being nice, but it made my day/year)

Dr. Davis would tell me how John Coltrane, towards the end, would gaze at the stars and look through a telescope and marvel at what was out there, reflecting as if knowing his time was coming soon (which Dr. Davis came to realized later). I had never met anyone who referred to John Coltrane as John until I met Art Davis.
I believe he is now able to see John again and Alice, and his wife who passed a few years ago. A beautiful reunion, I'm sure.

I feel blessed to have know him. And he was my friend.

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