Rising Son

bkonstage copy

BK Davis, a professional musician for nearly two decades, has played just about everywhere in the Quad-Cities.

And soon he’ll take his talent to Japan, where he will perform a five-week gig and possibly record a new release as well.

“I leave March 14 for Osaka, Japan,” says BK Davis, who headed the BK Davis Trioin Los Angeles in the late ’80s. The other two members were Doug McBeth, bass, and Frankie Avalon Jr. on drums.

“We did five nights a week in Toluca Lake at the Money Tree,” he says. “When I was working there I was contacted by a West Coast Management and booking agency, and they asked me if I’d be interested in doing solo jobs. And I indicated I would be interested but I don’t know when.” He stayed in touch with those executives. They offered me several positions overseas, but I had turned them down. I was in the states and making pretty good money; I didn’t want to adventure outside the states.”

Job offers continued, and BK Davis eventually accepted. “They book you for different jobs and they also manage you, as far as taking care of your promo packages, duplication of demo tapes and things like that.”

Being a jazz performer isn’t easy in the states, he says. “To work here in the states, especially if you’re not in a major city like Chicago or Atlanta or L.A. or New York, it becomes very difficult to book yourself without having a booking agent.

“That’s why these types of companies are so valuable. They take care of other things that would otherwise take time to handle. And you get a chance to concentrate on more music, which is what should be done. My job is to play music and sing songs, and when I have to get involved with other aspects of the business, it take away from other sides of what I’m trying to do.”

This particular position became available in January, but BK Davis couldn’t leave then. Now, passport in hand, he’s ready for his five-week tour date that begins March 18. He’ll play jazz and pop, as well as standards, such as tunes by Rodgers & Hart; and a little bit of blues.

“After being in Japan, they will book me somewhere else in the world,” he said. “Based on whether I want to go to that part of the world or not, I’ll accept or decline.” He plans a recording for initial release in Japan. “When I come back home, I will look for distribution and marketing here.” And, he says, he’s toying with the idea of possibly moving back to Los Angeles.

“Being in the music business is very much like being…your own private contractor. You take the work as it comes, or you venture out and create certain situations so you can work within your music. For me, that has led me in different areas and into different experiences with music. After so many years you end up having done so many different things you look back and say, Wow, I didn’t realize I did all that.”

His versatility is one of the reasons he has played with some of the top jazz musicians.

In Dallas, he played with blues man Johnny Taylor, whose ’70s hit was “Disco Lady.” BK Davis played piano and synthesizer with Taylor for two years. He recorded and performed with The Yellow Jackets; Little Richard; The Floaters; and G.C. Cameron, who did the soundtrack to 1975 film, “Cornbread, Earl & Me.” He recorded with Billy Preston on “Deliverance.”

“I’ve had lots of breaks,” he says. “I’ve been very blessed and fortunate. Even though I’m 36, I don’t see this as being a slow period in my life. I see myself continuing to write music and continuing on with productions and performing for people in other countries. It’s real sad that here in America we don’t support our music the way we should,” BK says. “Jazz is the only American art form. It’s real sad that there aren’t more of jazz clubs, or clubs that cater to jazz…A jazz artist in this area has to work 9to 5 and do his music as an avocation, as opposed to a vocation.”

One of the keys to staying successful is having CDS to sell at performances, says BK Davis, who always has been a professional musician in performance and teaching church choirs.

“I think here in the Quad-Cities blues and country are the big tickets. But jazz is catching on. It’s a higher art form,” he says.

“For instance, in many of your blues songs, you have maybe three chord changes. In jazz, you have a plethora of changes, musically, and very interesting melodies to work with. That’s that interests me, because it makes the music more interesting to play, and you have to think about your improvisation…you stretch out and let a bit of your creativity be seen.”

Article originally written by Linda Cook for the Quad City Times in 1996.