Born: August 10, 1956 Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric
On Ka'a Davis has worked most notably with Sun Ra as a member of his Arkestra, and with Don Ayler's Septet. Davis is also a trained concertise on the classical guitar.
On Mu Music produces independent releases and musical works of new jazzed and Afro-pulse beat inflections that lends to staged performance as well as for film scores, dance composition and media backdropping.
Davis has produced over 30 releases, all featuring his original work. Featured artists have included pianist Matthew Shipp, saxophonists Luther Thomas, Sabir Mateen, Saco Yasuma, Andrew Lamb, trumpeter Electric Meg Montgomery, vocalists Marie Afonso, Kadiatou Sibi, Tess Reece, drummers Jojo Kuo, Greg Lewis, Charles 'Bobo' Shaw, Ritchie Admiral and David 'Riddim-Athon!' Pleasant and bassists Francis MBappe, Juini Booth, Radu Ben Judah.
Davis was the musical director of the ensemble 'Impossible Space Circus of Sun Ra', an effort that brought together Sun Ra Arkestra alumni members that included Juini Booth and Al Jenkins.
Over the past recent years, Davis has been a featured artist on many of the programs at WKCR radio, the station of Columbia University. Davis has been heard over the airwaves in tributes to Jimi Hendrix, Alice Coltrane and James Brown along side with artists Melvin Gibbs, Victor Jones, Kim Clarke, Andre Lassalle, Vernon Reid, Jef Lee Johnson and Nick Russo. The station has also featured both 'Cartoon Satellite' and 'Djuke Obbo!', two of Davis' founded ensembles in their own featured live-in-the-studio sessions.
Davis is currently leading the group 'The Famous Original Djuke Music Players!', a sound of Afro-pulse beat with free-flowing jazzed out qualities and pointed lyric content. It is one of the original sounding bands that mirrors the funk and futuro jazzes of America merging with the new sounds of the new African music scenes. Two new releases from 2009, 'Seeds of Djuke' (LiveWiredMusic) and 'Djoukoujou!' (tzadik) have introduced what Davis has created and coined 'djuke music'.
Davis is also the founder of the trio group 'Cartoon Satellite', (myspace/cartoon satelite) with six (6) cd's produced. (On Mu Music). The group features Davis on guitar, Nick Gianni (saxes and flute and keyboards) and Dalius Naujo (drumset).
Davis has recorded over 12 releases with multi-instrumentalist TomChess as a member of 'Bombpop'. Also are duo recordings together with TomChess. (footjumbo records.com).
Davis is also a featured artist with drummer Kenny Wollessen in many of his ensembles, including 'Himalayas' and 'Wollesonic!'.
Davis is the author of Exerciricle: Keys to Museo-Ontology (On Mu Music Press). This is perhaps the only book of its kind that examines music, meta-physics and mental/spirit subjects presented as a study manual designed for the student to discover the inherited genius within. Davis conducts workshops based off of his book, aiming to present his scholarship in classroom invitations at music institutions and colleges as well as lecture touring.
Sun Ra is a popular touchstone for groove makers seeking a cosmic connection but few admirers capture more than a tiny fraction of the man's peculiar genius. Even former Arkestra members tend to produce watered-down, overly linear homages. On Ka'a Davis is the rare exception to that rule, and has created an astonishing disc that raises the ante on Ra's concepts while mixing in more contemporary African grooves. The originality of the grooves is overwhelming. (Davis offers) a spellbinding suite (with) every inside and outside notion of a century of African American music (is) embodied in this sound. Davis succeeds throughout in articulating the free, funky spirit that Ornette Coleman was reaching for with his Prime Time bands. If you have any interest in the spiritual and spatial aspects of Afro-American futurism , you need to own this album. This is my favourite album of the year so far. *****
David Dacks Exclaim! magazine, Ontario
One of the Most Vibrant and Enchanting Gems of the Year! (Davis) has put out one of the freshest, most vibrant and enchanting space/rock/funk/jazz/exotic gems of the year! It is rare when an album makes you want to dance as much as listen closely to all that is going on....the perfect remedy for jaded souls and (wannabe) hipsters. ****
Downtown Music Gallery, NYC
Jazz Album of the Month
A musician from yesteryear so good that he prompts a serious inquiry on how he could have been missed in the first place On Ka’a Davis’ deep roots in the fertile soil of Babatunde Olatunji, Fela Kuti and James Blood Ulmer are vivid to say the least, yet the guitarist-vocalist has such a singular character that, if his new music is coming from the past, it reaches to the present through an unidentified pathway....rhythms so that they become both danceable and disorientating, uncompromising in their entanglement, their sense of stability in league with the wavering nature of the beat. To a certain extent it is this sleight of hand that shows how connected the R&B of Luther Thomas [who is in the horn section here] and Charles Bobo Shaw, in its focused looseness, is to the jazz of Sun Ra and (the punk jazz of) Defunkt, the sum total of these parts. Davis stands resolutely in this continuum and he also transcends it, for in the flighty urgency of his voice and the deeply personal nature of his worldview he has asserted a creative personality that is his and his alone. It is one that is both deep inside the jazz tradition and outside it, which is possibly the mission statement of anybody who might well breathe the old as the oxygen of the new. ****
Kevin Le Gendre Echoes magazine UK
Davis is Easily a Seductive Musical Genius! On Ka’a Davis is easily a seductive musical genius. The artistry, the undulating beat of drum and high hat taps are brilliantly crafted. Part jazz, rock, Spanish, afrobeat, funk, and a whole lot of complex unstructured instrumentation make On Ka’a Davis a renowned eccentric. ****
Chanda Jones Short and Sweet NYC
A Penultimate Generation of Global Groove! SO GOOD, that I boldly call this music the PENULTIMATE GENERATION OF GLOBAL GROOVE! .... incredibly powerful, and positive, and to the absolute moment....sounds that you've never heard before! You'll listen to this one over and over again, each time finding a new little gem hidden in the groove.*****
Worldy Vibe NYC
Excellent Afro-Pop from North America! Davis never sounds like someone who has only a passing interest in the pop music of Sub-Saharan Africa; in fact, Seeds of Djuke gives the impression that he has spent a considerable amount of time checking out what Afro-pop in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mali, and other countries has to offer. Davis has no problem demonstrating that excellent Afro-pop can come from North America. ****
All Music Blog
Fascinating Music! Jazz and Afropop find some common ground! Davis has written a fascinating group of songs that are funky, improvisational and, while they embrace dissonance and free jazz styles, the songs retain an engaging groove that keeps (his music) accessible. ****
Northwest Arkansas News
Honorable Mention Robert Christgau ***** MSN Music
To Become an Influence to African Jazz! (Davis) has found a new direction. In a short time, I am sure that Davis will become influential to other African (and) jazz groups.*****
buyer review MSN Music
A Redefined Sense of Music from the Black Esthetic! On Ka'a Davis is full of rich imagination and music. Davis has arrived at a synthesis of jazz, blues, afro beat and space funk that stirs the brain as much as it does my dancing feet! (Davis is) causing a serious musical revolution, introducing a redefined sense of music from the Black esthetic.****
buyer review MSN Music
Searching for deepest darkest Africa on the lower east side!
Top Picks for 2009 Jazz Consumer Guide Village Voice
Best of 2009 WLCR FM radio
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New York, NY
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Books Exerciricle: Keys to Museo-Ontology (2004) On Mu Music Press