The community is invited to a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, July 20, noon, at the corner of Darbo Drive and brand-new Richard Davis Lane on Madison’s east side. Richard Davis, a Madison jazz legend and Professor Emeritus of Bass at the University of Wisconsin where he taught from 1977 until his retirement in 2016, will officially be honored with a street in his name.
Richard Davis was a Professor of Bass (European Classical and Jazz), Jazz History and a combo improvisation at the UW-Madison.
Davis was born April 15, 1930 in Chicago. He studied bass at DuSable High School under the legendary Captain Walter Dyett, then at VanderCook College of Music. After college, he moved to New York City where he spent 23 year establishing himself as one of the world’s premier bass players. In 1977, Davis became a professor at the University of Wisconsin, where his innovative methods in teaching bass, Black music history and jazz performance produced hundreds of noteworthy students.
“He has been just an incredible teacher, mentor and influence on me,” Wilder Deitz, who studied under Davis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Madison365 in an interview last year about the new street honoring Richard Davis. “He’s an amazing man and an incredible teacher.”
Downbeat International Critics Poll named him Best Bassist from 1967-1974. He has recorded a dozen albums as a leader and 3,000 recordings/jingles as a sideman. Some of his performance/recording credits include Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Don Sebesky, Oliver Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal and a host of other notables.
Throughout his professional life, Davis worked to combat racism and founded the Madison. Institutes for the Healing of Racism in 2000. While a professor, Davis was a champion for student diversity, and an advocate for minority students.
The Worthington Park Neighborhood Association (WPNA) named the street “Richard Davis Lane” in honor of Davis’ contributions to the city, country and world and the Madison Common Council approved the name. The naming process was a partnership between the Worthington Park Neighborhood Association, City of Madison Engineering Division and the Darbo-Worthington Neighborhood Resource Team (NRT).