JAY DAVENPORT - Drums
Born in 1960, Jay Davenport grew up on the south side of Chicago listening to jazz, jazz-fusion and lots of 60’s and 70’s R&B. After being particularly influenced by the different styles of his favorite drummers: Art Blakey, Billy Cobham and Steve Gadd, he set out to find his own niche and develop his own sound. He started out playing locally with Chicago-style R&B, soul and fusion bands, and at age 22, began his road career, touring the U.S. with The Dells, an iconic “doo-wop” group.
At the famed Kingston Mines in Chicago, he connected with blues/rock harmonica stalwart Sugar Blue, who had recently completed his performances on the Rolling Stone’s “Some Girls” album and tour, and started his own Chicago-based band. Jay enjoyed Sugar Blue’s emphasis on improvisation, and the way they fused blues music with jazz and rock, so he joined the band and his blues career was underway.
Early in their relationship, Blue wanted more expertise in traditional blues drumming. He hooked Jay up with retired, longtime Chess Records/Bo Diddley drummer, Clifton James, who agreed to mentor him. The two drummers spent many a night together, talking and playing drums, and bonding. James was adamant that Jay continue to infuse new ideas into his blues drumming, and he quickly blossomed into a high demand player on the Chicago Blues scene.
Along with Sugar Blue, Jay played for Junior Wells, Valerie Wellington, Pinetop Perkins, John Littlejohn, Jimmie Johnson and many other Chicago-based bands.
Jay left the road to raise a family in the early 90's, working as a computer applications developer. After a few years, the urge to play the drums resurfaced, and he began playing part-time with Chicago guitar phenom Melvin Taylor, working days in the office and nights and weekends behind the drum kit. This is where he began playing with bassist Greg Rzab, when they shared a stint with Taylor. The two really clicked as a rhythm section, and began collaborating on various projects, including the Talking Shoes - an eclectic trio with Ray White (singer/guitarist with Frank Zappa).
When John Mayall sought to put together his new band in 2008, he asked his favorite bass player to join, and also to recommend a drummer. Greg called Jay and invited him to come along. This being an offer he could not refuse, Jay decided to resume his music career full-time, and has been touring, recording and growing as an artist with John Mayall ever since.
When he is not on tour, Jay hones his skills as a record producer, working with various Chicago blues artists. On his latest release, "Jay Davenport - In Good Company - We Got The Blues", Jay got a huge assist from Mr. Mayall, from his wonderful harmonica, keyboard and guitar work, and his co-authoring two original songs (with Jay and Greg Rzab), to his invaluable advise on the album artwork.
"This journey with John has been one of life's most rewarding experiences. I feel truly honored and blessed"
- Jay Davenport