Mike Davis has lived several distinct musical lives. He has been a student, a serious student of performance and of theory and of composition and of art. He has been a gig warrior, playing multiple shows in multiple styles on different instruments at different venues with different bands on the same day numerous days per week, week after week after week. He has been a record producer, sitting in front of a computer and a rack of mic pres and compressors – recording, editing, mixing, picking on artists until he finally feels they ‘got it’. He has been a recording artist, obsessing over whether the material is right, whether the concept is strong, whether the ensemble gets it. He has been a record label owner, pondering how best to market a project and to whom, begging for reviews and hoping they don’t stink, dealing with logistics that are a world away from the music they serve. He has been a band leader, a sideman, an extrovert, a recluse. What follows is a brief history of those lives, some of which are still being lived.
Mike grew up in a small Texas town not far outside of Houston called Rosenberg. Though a music fanatic from a very early age, Mike didn’t begin seriously playing an instrument until around age 14. His very good friend Roger started showing him how to play bass. Before long Mike was playing bass in his high school big band as well as in the Symphonic band. The flood gates opened. He borrowed other instruments from the school and began to practice and experiment. He tried clarinet, trombone, trumpet, french horn, drums, piano. Turns out bass was a great fit, and an ensemble role that made absolute sense to him. He discovered his first great jazz album – Chick Corea’s ‘Now He Sings-Now He Sobs’. He studied with his first teachers of bass and theory and jazz – Dave Foster, Eric Late, Shelly Berg, Bruce Dudley. He played gigs in Houston with his first influential peers – Todd Harrison, Mike Wheeler, Harry Shepard, Joe LoCascio, Tony Campisi, Woody Witt, Clark Erickson, Ted Wenglisnski. He fell in love with performing, composing, and recording.