Last Saturday, the San Diego African American Musician Heritage Foundation inducted local jazzman Jesse Davis into its hall of fame. Davis shares this distinction with local luminaries such as Fro Brigham, Hollis Gentry III, Carl Evans Jr., and Charles McPherson.
Asked to share a where-it-all-began moment, Davis says, “Vegas, baby. My first audition at the Sands [in the ’60s]. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were in the room, the big Copa Room where Sinatra performed. And there wasn’t a microphone for me. The stagehands forgot to set ’em up. But I had to perform, and I sang a couple numbers with the combo there, and Sinatra says to the manager, ‘What are you trying to do, burn the kid’s voice out? Give him a job!’”
Singing still, Davis has entertained ex-presidents in Palm Springs and recorded for Walt Disney Pictures.
“But I got to tell you, one of my career highlights was this past year at Anthology, where I performed a career retrospective that my wife Diane produced. It was completely sold out.”
Davis performs “mostly corporate events these days, big-band stuff where you can put on the whole show, like in Vegas and Palm Springs, where I still enjoy gigging.”
Davis has a monthly slot at Humphrey’s Backstage and a weekly Saturday webcast, 8 a.m.–noon, on groovinu.com.