Xavier Davis’ professional career as a Jazz pianist took off when the legendary vocalist Betty Carter spotted his outstanding talent at the 1994 International Association of Jazz Educators convention in Boston while he was performing with his college ensemble. It was her who brought Xavier to New York, hiring him exclusively as the pianist of her working trio. Today, Xavier is one of the most accomplished Jazz pianists world wide. Having led master classes and clinics all over the world and coming from a family of music educators, passing on knowledge and skills to young musicians is very important to Xavier. As such, he is proud to be Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University. Xavier was also member of the teaching staff in the Jazz department of the Juilliard School of Music in New York for six years prior to that.
Xavier’s development as a musician has been greatly influenced by the inspiration and guidance he has received from Carl Allen, James Williams, and Billy Hart, whom he sees and respects as his great mentors. In addition to Betty and Carl, Xavier has performed and recorded with many other world-famous Jazz artists like the legendary Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Christian McBride, Regina Carter, Stefon Harris, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton Marsalis, Don Byron, Nat Adderley, Nicholas Payton, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Greene, Steve Turre, Al Foster, and Jeremy Pelt among others. During the 1999 – 2000 season, Xavier worked with the Boy’s Choir of Harlem as their Musical Director. He also played keyboard for the television series “Cosby.” His talent has been featured on more than 50 albums. Xavier is part of the Christian McBride Big Band and was featured on Christian’s album ‘The Good Feeling’, which won a GRAMMY award in 2012.
As a bandleader, Xavier has released two critically acclaimed albums – ‘Dance of Life’ and ‘The Innocence of Youth’. “The pianist [Xavier Davis] simply knows how to make every note on his instrument sing, and he invariably finds the richest area of the keyboard for voicing his chords.” says writer Bob Blumenthal. Jazz Times reviewer John Murph writes “…the music exudes a mature, nonchalant ease and cozy empathy that make this…a rewarding listen.” Down Beat gave the CD, “Dance of Life,” four stars, stating, “Davis steps out with an accomplished debut.” Xavier is currently working on his long awaited follow-up to these albums.
In 2005, Xavier became the first person to receive the prestigious “New Works Grant” twice from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation under the auspices of Chamber Music America. He has won awards at several festivals as well as in Down Beat magazine.
Being a gifted composer, arranger, and producer of music, Xavier has composed and arranged music for outstanding artists like Carl Allen, Regina Carter, and Hans Schuman. He has co-produced the album “Wise Children” by Tom Harrell and recently produced the new album of singer Lizzie Thomas. Xavier is also a passionate and experienced film and commercial music composer/producer.