Other Notable Deaths


August 05, 2007

ART DAVIS, 73 Jazz bassist, psychologist

Art Davis, the bassist who played with John Coltrane and other jazz greats, died of a heart attack July 29 at his home in Long Beach, Calif.

He was blacklisted in the 1970s for speaking up about racism in the music industry, then later earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and balanced performance dates with appointments to see patients.

"He was adventurous with his approach to playing music," said pianist Nate Morgan, who played with Dr. Davis intermittently over the past 10 years. "It takes a certain amount of integrity to step outside the box and say, `I like it here, and I'm going to hang here for a while.'"

Known for his stunning and complete mastery of the instrument, Dr. Davis was able to jump between genres. He played classical music with the New York Philharmonic, was a member of the NBC, Westinghouse and CBS orchestras, and played for Broadway shows.

The most enriching experience of his career was collaborating with John Coltrane. Described by jazz critic Nat Hentoff as Mr. Coltrane's favorite bassist, Dr. Davis performed on the saxophonist's albums, including Ascension, Volumes 1 and 2 of The Africa/Brass Sessions and Ole Coltrane.

In the 1970s, his fortunes waned after he filed an unsuccessful discrimination lawsuit against the New York Philharmonic. Like other black musicians who challenged job hiring practices, he lost work and industry connections.

With less work coming his way, he returned to school and in 1981 earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University. For many years, he was a practicing psychologist while also working as a musician.

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