Billie Davies
  • New Orleans, LA
  • United States
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Where are you located?
New Orleans
What is your affiliation to the Jazz World?
Musical Artist, Producer, Music Director, Composer
Tell us a little about your background...
Billie Davies is an American female jazz drummer, composer and bandleader best known for her Avant-garde and Avant-Jazz and Free-Jazz compositions since the mid nineties, and her improvisational drumming techniques she has performed in Europe and in the US.
Billie Davies hails originally from Brugge, Belgium and mostly grew up on the Belgian Coast at the North Sea in Europe. Her grandfather, Maurice Clybouw, was the first influence in her life to introduce her to the drums when Billie was about three years old. She has had a love relationship with rhythm and drums ever since.

Of all the musicians in the US Billie has played Jazz, Avant-garde jazz, and Avant-Jazz with, Leroy Vinnegar, John Handy, Saul Kaye (on Cobra Basemento, Dreams), Michael Godwin (on Cobra Basemento, Dreams), Lee Elfenbein (on Dreams), Drew Waters, Pierre Swärd, Tom Bone Ralls (on all about Love.), Oliver Steinberg (on all about Love.), Daniel Coffeng (on 12 VOLT), Adam Levy (on 12 VOLT), Shan Kenner, Dave Easley, Eric Traub ... and Alex Blaine, Branden Lewis, Evan Oberla and Ed Strohsahl (on Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon), hold very fond memories. She had guest appearances all over.

"Davies is mostly an autodidact whose natural talent, relentless, explorative spirit and multifaceted experiences have led to an innovative approach to jazz." (Hryar Attarian)

"With a background in Classical and Jazz and a lifetime of musical experiences in jams, performances, recordings and music production, the listener is treated to jazz inclinations within her ensembles that bristle with cutting-edge freshness." (C.J. Bond)

"Davies is not countering the modern jazz movement so much but rather stripping it down to its essence. When listening to Davies play, its easier to think of her not as a drummer but a tonal painter who swipes brushstrokes with her drumsticks." (S. Victor Aaron)

At a crossroads in her musical career, Billie ended up receiving a grant from Max Roach to come study at Berklee College of Music, this was after he heard one of her tapes she laid down with a bass player in Montpellier, France. Billie was however having too much fun in the south of France, living the life of a gypsy jazz musician and therefore decided not to take the offer. In his words: "Hearing from your tape, you could learn more fundamental drumming techniques, but I also hear the natural drummer, so my advice is for you not to worry too much about your technical skill, you will develop your own, I can definitely hear that, but just in case that you might want to study in a good program, please accept my invitation in the form of a talent grant to come study at the Berklee College of Music, all you need to worry about is finding a place to live and some money to survive."

Aged 25 Davies made the transition to become a professional musician. Some of her influences stem from classical, gypsy, manouche, blues, jazz, free jazz and soul/funk. As a player she feels that Al Foster, Billy Higgins, Billy Cobham, Jack De Johnette, Ed Thigpen, and Peter Erskine have been her biggest influences, she learned from them extensively. Becoming completely immersed into the Jazz, free-jazz, Avant-jazz and Avant-garde world, which comes natural to her stylistically, three years later, she was a professional drummer, and the rest is history... She performed throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France ... "A Revelation for her was meeting with legendary guitarist Ricardo Baliardo, but known by his stage name Manitas de Plata, as well as playing with bluesman Claude Mazet - both guitarists also respected the traditional rhythmic rules. Even with the Roma, she lived several years in their way of life, which her ​​bohemian temper satisfied so that at twenty-five she refused the offer of the legendary drummer Max Roach to study at Berklee College Of Music in Boston, after he heard her play in Montpellier on the street."(Jan Hocek) ... Italy, Northern Africa, Spain, Portugal and Greece for the next 7 years. She knew her love of drumming had become her life.

A move to the United States at age 32 gave her an opportunity to record two albums, "Cobra Basemento" and "Dreams" with Saul Kaye on guitar and Michael Godwin on bass, as well as becoming a US Citizen.
In 2009, she made Los Angeles, California her home base and in 2011, in Hollywood, she began writing for her new album "all about Love." and started the process of choosing musicians to develop her sound for the album. In June 2012 she independently released "all about Love." with Tom Bone Ralls on trombone and Oliver Steinberg on bass. In April 2013, Davies recorded "12 VOLT" with Daniel Coffeng on guitar and Adam Levy on bass. It was published in September 2013 and released on October 10, 2013.

In March of 2014 she moved her operations to New Orleans where she since permanently resides and works.
In April of 2015 she recorded "Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon" at her studio on the west bank of the Mississippi, just outside of New Orleans, with Alex Blaine on tenor sax, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Evan Oberla on trombone, Ed Strohsahl on upright bass.

ACCOLADES (from Wikipedia)
Her third release after a hiatus of six years was "all about Love", which had a surprising result on the CMJ Jazz College Radio Charts and achieved the #1 top jazz add in new album adds."all about Love" went on to stay in the Top 40 jazz for four consecutive weeks. CMJ Top 40 JAZZ:

1 CMJ Top Jazz Adds CMJ issue #1262 - AUG 23, 2012. (Charts)
28 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1263 - AUG 29, 2012. (Charts)
14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1264 - SEP 06, 2012. (Charts)
14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 - SEP 13, 2012.
20 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 - SEP 20, 2012.

"all about Love" was also very well received in Canada where the album ended up in the Top 10 on three different !Earshot Jazz charts:
5 !Earshot Jazz National Jazz Charts w/e SEPT 25, 2012. (Charts)
2 !Earshot Jazz CJSW 90.9 MHz - Calgary Jazz w/e SEPT 25, 2012. (Charts)
8 !Earshot Jazz CJSR 88.5 MHz - Edmonton Jazz w/e NOV 20, 2012. (Charts)

Eventhough the release of "12 VOLT" was not promoted to Radio stations/Charts, in the true spirit of the bohemian, it received great reviews nationally and internationally and it got her a nomination for "Jazz Artist" of the Year at the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards on September 26, 2013.

Billie Davies was the recipient of the "Jazz Artist" Award for the year 2013 by the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards on November 14, 2013.

DISCOGRAPHY (from Wikipedia)

2004: Cobra Basemento (Self Released) with Saul Kaye, Michael Godwin
2005: Dreams (Self Released) with Saul Kaye, Michael Godwin, Lee Elfenbein
2012: all about Love. (Cobra Basement) with Tom Bone Ralls on trombone, Oliver Steinberg on upright bass and electric bass
2013: 12 VOLT (Cobra Basement) with Daniel Coffeng on electric guitar, Adam Levy on upright bass
2015: Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon (Cobra Basement) with Alex Blaine on tenor sax, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Evan Oberla on trombone, Ed Strohsahl on upright bass.

All of her music is improvisational... a conversation between musicians and musical instruments, a joint emotional expression inspired by a certain common feeling, thought or perspective that is being communicated to an audience, a listener, a community.

Her deep rooted influences: Classical, Jazz, Free-Jazz and Avant-Jazz, Avant-garde, Gypsy, Manouche, Blues.

Major influences: Jack De Johnette, Billy Higgins, Billy Hart, Al Foster, Ed Thigpen, Peter Erskine, Billy Cobham... Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Important influences: Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams... Music produced under The ECM label in the 70's/80's with artists such as Dollar Brand/Abdulah Ibrahim, Jan Garbarek, John Abercrombie, Terje Rypdal, Charles Lloyd became an important influence and her inspirations have been influenced by Carla Bley, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Chopin, Ravel, Serge Vandercam, Matisse, Manitas de Plata, Irene Papas, Vangelis, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Trilok Gurtu, Klaus Schulze, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Charles Trenet, George Brassens, Mozart, Bach, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Christian Dotremont, the CoBrA movement, Bram Bogart, Hugo Claus, Gaudi, Braque, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Miro, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and so many more... and ~~~ Universal Energy ~~~.
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