Friday, February 24, 2012

Kay Davis 1920 - 2012

Kay Davis, a vocalist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1944 to 1950, has died. She was renown for her wordless vocals. Ellington, in his memoir Music Is My Mistress, said of Davis:

Kay Davis was an honor student of Northwestern University, where she studied opera and majored in music. She had perfect pitch, could sight-read, and had all the gifts, so we decided to use her voice as an instrument. This was in addition to her interpretations of regular songs with words, and it proved very successful on several numbers. I shall never forget her first Carnegie Hall appearance in January 1946. Subtitled "A Blue Fog You Can Almost See Through," "Transbluency" was a last minute kind of composition, and the two featured musicians (Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet and Lawrence Brown on trombone) had to have music stands at the mike, because it had been completed too late for them to memorize. So we put Kay's part on a music stand at the mike, just like those of the musicians, and the performance was a smash.

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Alexandria, VA, United States
'To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle." - George Orwell