Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

September/October 2013: Vanessa Rubin

Quincy Davis

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Drummer Quincy Davis moved to Winnipeg in the fall of 2010 to join the Jazz Studies faculty at the University of Manitoba. Over the past few years, he has been busy teaching the next generation of drummers and leading Promise, a hand-picked ensemble of high-calibre students. If you haven’t seen him on the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances stage or at the Jazz Festival, you can track him down at The Cool Wednesday Night Hang—sometimes not on the drums but at the piano or scatting a mean vocal line. He’s just back from New York where he launched his debut CD.

You’re launching your new recording here in Winnipeg on September 19. Tell us about that.

Songs In the Key of Q is my debut CD as a leader. All but one of the compositions are originals that I wrote between 2001 and 2012. I would describe the music as honest, sincere, exciting, heartfelt, groovy, open, hip, serious, fun and very relevant to the current times. I think of it as a musical representation of my personality!

You continue to tour a lot, including frequent trips to Japan.

Continuing to tour and perform is very important to me—it fuels me and pushes me to my potential as a musician. Performing in Japan is special for many jazz musicians because Japanese audiences truly respect jazz music and the musicians who perform it—there’s a special feeling when you play there. Travelling to Japan so often has allowed me to establish a good reputation with many Japanese musicians. When I put together my first Japanese tour as a leader, I’m hoping to use some of Japan’s top musicians.

When did you know you wanted to be a drummer?

Thanks to the fact that I come from a family of musicians and music was always playing in the house, it was a natural progression to play music. I knew I wanted to be a drummer since I was 6 years old. Though I took piano lessons from my mother, I didn’t have the patience for it and gravitated more towards beating on her pots and pans. Soon after my parents recognized my interest in rhythm, I began taking snare drum lessons and I received my first drum.

What do people not understand about drumming?

One of the biggest misconceptions about drumming is that each limb is playing a completely different rhythm. While each limb may be playing different rhythms, there is a composite rhythm or groove that all of the limbs create. So drummers actually think of all of these rhythms as one rhythm rather than four unrelated rhythms.

What lessons has jazz taught you?

I’ve learned that no matter where someone is from and no matter what their background is, anyone can play jazz. It’s super cool when I can make music with someone I’ve never met before who comes from a different country and speaks a totally different language. Everyone speaks the universal language of music!!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

Probably the most surprising thing about me is that I speak Japanese fluently. I studied it at a language school in New York, and it became a serious hobby for quite a few years when I lived in New York where I practiced speaking it with my Japanese musician friends. Needless to say, it comes in handy when I go to Japan!

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