has crafted a distinctive sound on the slide trombone. In addition to leading his own group and serving as co-leader of
. "I'm drawn to music which allows for creativity of expression,"
said during a 2001 interview, "music which challenges the listener (as well as the musicians playing it) to think, to imagine, to feel."
A native of Binghamton, NY, Davis
grew up surrounded by music. His father had a huge collection of jazz, blues, and rock records while his mother was an avid fan of the radio. Together with his younger brother, he developed a knack for harmonizing. Davis
' musical abilities were inherited from his maternal grandmother, a self-taught stride piano player who performed in local restaurants. Although he taught himself to pick out basslines on the piano by the age of six, he studied trumpet, baritone saxophone, and tuba in school. Switching to the trombone in order to play with the high-school stage/dance band, he discovered his natural musical voice. Davis
sharpened his technique while attending a summer jazz workshop at SUNY Binghamton in which the Bob Brookmeyer Sextet
featuring Joe Lovano
served as the resident band. He later spent three years with the Binghamton Youth Symphony. He continued his studies at the University of Hartford's Hartt College of Music, where he was mentored by alto saxophonist and music teacher Jackie McLean
' first career break came when McLean
recommended him to influential jazz drummer Art Blakey
. After sitting in with Blakey
's band during several gigs, he replaced Frank Lacy
in 1989. He remained with the band until Blakey
's death in 1990. Teaching since 1985, Davis
joined the jazz faculty at the Hartt College of Music in 1991.