Take Five With Alexi David

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Alexi David: My name is Alexi David, and I'm a composer/double-bassist/human.

I was born in Cyprus, and raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before the evil strollers descended.

I had a stunted growth as a young musician because I was (am?) a drug addict. I'm much better now, but still continue to fight.

After rehab in Cyprus, I resumed playing Double Bass (after a hiatus of years), and I moved back to NYC in August 2005. I became a full-time college student. I have also taught music and helped other young people at The Door, a youth center in SoHo.

Some of the great musicians I've been recording/performing with lately include: Andrew Hadro, Chris Langellotti, Brandon Lewis, Vladimir Katz, Steve Lyman, Luke Damrosch, Thomas Abbott, Elan Mehler, Ryan Anselmi, Junior Mance, Phil Stewart, Stacy Dillard, Bruce Cox, Saul Rubin, Geoff Vidal, Alon Albagli...........

I've recorded with singer José James (featuring Junior Mance) for many Brownswood Recordings and did two European tours with him. <{P> I've played venues such as ENZO e.V (Frankfurt), The Blue Note (Milan), Paradiso (Amsterdam), Bohannon (Berlin), Vortex, Pizza Express, Bush Hall, MoMo's (all London), Berns (Stockholm), almost everywhere in Cyprus, La Fleche D'Or, New Morning (Both Paris), Supermarket (Toronto Jazz festival) Garage, SummerStage, Wetlands, Sweet Rhythm, Hiro Ballroom, Baggott Inn, St. Peter's Church, Smalls, Fat Cat, Swing 46, Knickerbocker, NuBlu (NYC) and lots of other cool joints. I've done live radio shows for WBGO and WBAI.

I've also had/have great teachers and mentors, such as Gamal El-Zoghby, Kirk Nurock, Bill Kirchner, Robert Sadin, Joe Chambers, Cecil Bridgewater, Henry Grimes and Junior Mance.

Aside from music, my life is: animals, Conspiracies/truth, knowledge, food/drink, traveling, history, research, being a Pisces, restoring vintage electronic equipment (mostly tube amps), and trying to improve myself and be a better person. I also have the best girlfriend in the world.

Regarding Music: Besides satisfying my ego, my goal is to create positive change.

Musical/Life Mission Statement

  • To come to terms with my two cultural sides, American and Cypriot. To accept myself as a Cypriot and an American, that is to see the positive and the negative and let it be. The compositions being written blur the boundaries between the two.

  • To blend all the music that is in my head into one kind of genre. That is—no genre at all. I am not a jazz musician, nor a Rembetis, nor a rock 'n roller. I am Alexi.

  • To be more honest in life, and without embarrassment. Same thing applies in music. Music is Life, they're the same damn thing, always.

  • The use of music as a catharsis, a problem-solver, and ultimately a way to stay off Heroin and other bad drugs—bad for me anyway.

  • To encourage and help others, other students at school, children, and lost people—to do the above, or similar.

  • And, you know, to have some Frikkiiiinnnn' fun!


Double-bass, electric bass, piano, saz.

Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers: Gamal El-Zoghby, Kirk Nurock, Robert Sadin, Henry Grimes, Cecil Bridgewater, Junior Mance.

Musical Influences: The Who, The Beatles, Charles Mingus, King Crimson, Bela Bartok, Arnold Schoenberg, Led Zeppelin, Mountain, Cream, Ray Charles, Vasilis Tsitsanis, Rosa Eskenazi.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... Playing a bass got the girls' attention.

Your sound and approach to music: As in life as in music. Or as my friend Stacy Dillard said, "Practice Life and the music will follow."

Your teaching approach:

What are your needs? What do you want? Why do you want to play?

strong>Your dream band:

mmm...I don't think like that.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: You mean like playing jazz for a whole wedding and at the end someone coming up and asking us to play something "jazzy"?

Favorite venue:

Fat Cat, New York City. Musicians are respected there. We get paid a flat rate, which increases as time passes. The music is of the utmost importance and holds a high standard.

I also like Paris audiences.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? So far—"Something For Franz Liszt" and "You Don't See Any Black Destroying The World, Do you? Huh?!" Those were good versions. They're on my website.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I think it was John Coltrane's Interstellar Space. Flipped me out. I loved it.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

A new language - Ottoman/Greek music mixed with jazz and blues and rock. Also, I like to bring the fun back into jazz—and the dance-ability. Often, cats take themselves and their solos way too seriously. If you want the music to progress and survive, stop making it all about you and your notes.

Did you know...

That I'm scared of aliens abducting me from my bedroom window at night?

CDs you are listening to now: '50s Sun Ra, '40s Gene Ammons, "Morning Star," done by both Nat King Cole and Billy Preston, early Black Sabbath.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? I hate these questions.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Play for the people. Entertain. Make people dance. Geez, at least talk to your audience. Jazz used to sell when it had these things. Think about it.

What is in the near future?

To record my compositions—the first batch.

By Day:

Still in College—I also repair vacuum tube equipment and Hammonds/Leslies.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Junkie. That's what I was before. I quit so I could play again.

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