"Man," says Jackie Davis, "I feel like I'm playing an orchestra!" And
can readily understand. A Hammond electric organ is, technically speaking, nothing
more than a Hammond electric organ. But with Jackie Davis at the keyboard, many
unusual, sweet-sounding and full-swinging things begin to happen.
This talented fellow has turned its sound into something considerably more
background music for cocktail-bar glass-clinking. He has a rare sense of dynamics,
unfolding the organ to its full orchestral richness or paring it down to a delicate solo
quality that can duet gracefully with a guitar. And in addition to his technical mastery,
Jackie Davis has succeeded in developing a very legitimate and solid jazz style on
what is essentially a non-jazz instrument.
Jackie's interest in music started when he was still a young boy.
Enchanted with his
grandmother's piano, he spent hours solving the mysteries of "Chopsticks." By
time he was eleven, Jackie had forty-five dollars, lots of talent and unlimited
determination. So he spent the money on his first piano. From then on, when he
wasn't playing, he was listening. And much of his listening was centered around Art
Tatum. He idolized the master, but couldn't help thinking to himself, "If he can do
much with a pianowowwhat he could do with an organ!" Comparatively
the piano had such limitations; for Jackie had found out that an organ had some two
million potential sounds. (As of today Jackie figures he's still on his first million, but
he's young yet and doesn't tire easily.)
Graduating from Florida A&M with a B.A. degree in music, Jackie became
accompanist for Billy Daniels, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Sarah
Vaughana sort of postgraduate course in the fine art of how to interpret a song.
Then came the war and the Army, and afterward Jackie returned to his professional
career, playing singles, and being a part of various vocal and instrumental groups. But
his eye was still on the goal of making a name as an organist. In 1951 he bought his
first Hammond and shortly after opened at the Club Harlem in Philadelphia. His
engagement lasted twenty weeks and set up Jackie Davis as a new attraction for
night spots and theaters everywhere.
During these past few years Jackie has been a busy boy, criss-crossing the country
to play his engagements, pausing periodically to make records, and never ceasing to
develop his own artistry on the electric organ.
In this, his first album for Capitol, Jackie's splendid sounds are recorded in High
But there's still another kind of high fidelity that's caught in the recordJackie's
discriminating taste in material and his easy ability to handle everything from sweet
and lovely to good-humored and swinging. Here are the melodies of Harold Arlen,
Vernon Duke, Harry Warren and other topflight popular composers.. To each Jackie
gives his special attention, his special interpretation.
Complementing Jackie and his organ are the substantial rhythmic contributions of
Ernest L. (Fats) Clark on drums and the guitar etchings of Irving Ashby.