Considering the music environment that nourished his childhood, it's no surprise James Davis made a career in music.
He recently released his first CD, Angles of Refraction," as part of the James Davis Quintet, a group of jazz musicians.
The 1997 Waxahachie High School graduate participated in band from sixth through 12th grade and is one of many family musicians. His mother, Theresa Davis, is a piano teacher and the pianist and organist at St. Joseph Catholic Church, where she also has served as choir director.
There are other family influences, as well. His older brother, Keith, started on clarinet and also plays saxophone and bass. Keith is band director at Wheat Middle School in Cleburne, teaches the Cleburne High School jazz band and plays professionally.
Davis' younger sister, Rebecca, played the oboe and flute while a WHS student and also sings. His younger brother, Will, plays the trombone and, although a non-music major at the University of North Texas, is a substitute trombonist for several of the university's jazz lab bands and several Dallas-area groups. His grandmother was a pianist in her younger days and although his father jokes that the only thing he could play was the radio, Davis said his father really loves music" and I could always tell that he had a good critical ear for music."
In addition to his family influences, the WHS band program played a significant role in Davis' musical career.
I grew up singing in the church choir," said Davis, who reports taking his first piano lessons from his mother. Those lessons were cut short after he found it difficult to study under one's own mother, so Davis joined Waxahachie ISD's band program and has played trumpet since. My freshman year was Bill Centera's first year and he was able to get the jazz band as a class during the school day, which was the first time that ever happened," said Davis, who attributes the band director with getting the jazz program going at the high school."
Davis and his bandmates attended jazz festivals, did performances outside of school and participated in a number of opportunities.
(Centera) was really supportive of the jazz program," Davis said, noting the group played at the Montreux Jazz Festival, which he describes as a huge deal." It's very rare that a high school jazz band would get to attend such a prestigious jazz festival," said Davis, who believes the band was invited because it placed first at the University of Texas at Arlington's jazz festival the previous year.
(Centera) really supported jazz band a lot and that's kind of where my interest in jazz band began," said Davis, noting he also played other types of music as much as he could and commenting on the number of hours he practiced and performed.
After high school, Davis went on to receive a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Texas at Arlington. My course work at UTA was heavily music education based," said Davis, who received his master's degree in classical trumpet performance at UNT.
From high school through master degree studies, I was playing jazz along with studying classical trumpet," Davis said.
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