World-Renowned Jazz Saxophonist
Humphrey Stewart Davis, Jr.
November 14, 1949 - May 12, 2007
Humphrey Stewart Davis, Jr. was the son of the late Humphrey Stewart Davis, Sr., jazz bassist and the late Bonnie Williams Davis. His father played with such luminaries as Danny Barker, Papa Celestine and Albert French. His paternal grandmother, Beatrice Stewart Davis, was a concert pianist with the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra and taught at Tuskegee Institute. Both of his aunts played classical and gospel piano. Humphrey was given his stage name before he was born, and it seemed only natural that he would pursue a career in music.
Humphrey began taking clarinet lessons at the age of eight from the legendary Willie Humphrey, Jr. He performed his first clarinet solo three years later at his elementary school graduation. At age 13 he moved from clarinet to the saxophone.
Humphrey was an accomplished musician, composer, arranger and singer/songwriter. In the 1980's he had a successful band called The Las Vegas Connection. Humphrey's more recent band, Nightlife played at the Famous Door and many of New Orleans' hottest clubs. Many notable musicians and artists saw his talent and enlisted him on the bandstand, such as Dr. John, Fats Domino, Aaron and Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas, B.B. King, David Ruffin, Latimore, Willie Tee & the Gators, and Thomas Jefferson. In addition he was bandleader and musical director for King Floyd, Johnny Adams and Jean Knight. He co-starred with James Brown, Jerry Butler, Clarence Carter and Ronnie Dyson. His fame spread beyond New Orleans landing gigs in Europe with appearances in France, Greece and Switzerland. Humphrey also performed often with trumpeter, Frank E. Parker III, his first cousin.
After playing with various groups, Humphrey decided to showcase his talents in a solo CD called "Dawn" and a second CD called "A Little Jazz! A Little Blues!, A Little Blues! A Little Jazz!." Humphrey excelled in rhythm and blues, contemporary jazz and traditional New Orleans jazz, all of which make up a part of his own style of music.
An enthusiastic fan has described him as a "talent and cool cat." Another fan visiting from LaCrosse, WI. stated "he is one reason we want New Orleans to get it all back together. It's that warm friendly personal keeping the music alive thing he does."
Humphrey is survived by three children, five siblings and a host of nieces, nephews and grandchildren.