Dr. Rick Davies — In Memoriam

Professor of Music

Dr. Davies had been chair of the Music Department from 2008–2011. He was promoted to professor in 2009. He was a performer (trombone), composer, and bandleader. His academic interests were in the areas of jazz, Latin and Afro-Caribbean music, and Music Technology. Davies directed the Contemporary Combo (MUS398H) and the Jazz Ensemble (394A). He taught Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Music (MUS116) and Introduction to Music Technology (MUS305). Davies taught private trombone, low brass, and jazz studies in his applied studio. In rotation with the other full-time faculty, he taught the senior-level courses Topic (MUS310 and Senior Seminar (MUS485). Other course he had taught include Jazz History (MUS112), American Pop (MUS114), Fundamental Musicianship (MUS120), and Theory I (MUS121). He also taught course on Latin American and Caribbean music (HON158) in the honors program. He received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2009.

Music performance, composition, and scholarly research had all contributed to the academic focus of Dr. Davies. As a performer and composer, Davies had an international reputation in the Latin jazz and salsa fields. He had performed on numerous jazz, Latin, and r&b recordings and had appeared around the world with a variety of musical groups. As musical director of Salsa Picante (led by pianist Wayne Gorbea), he contributed numerous compositions and improvisations to Gorbea’s CD recordings. These recordings include: Introducing Wayne Gorbea’s Salsa Picante (2007); Pradkatun (2006); Fiesta En El Bronx (2002); Saboreando (2000); Cogele el Gusto (1998). These CDs have a number of international salsa hits. During the past decade Dr. Davies had toured extensively with Wayne Gorbea and Salsa Picante. Among the places he had appeared with the band e Tokyo, Sydney, Budapest, Amsterdam, Great Britain, and Colombia. Since coming to SUNY Plattsburgh, Davies had released two of his own CDs (Salsa Strut (2001) and Siempre Salsa (2006) of original recordings with his group Jazzismo. In the past decade and a half, Dr. Davies performed on recordings by Mya, Wyclef Jean, Michael Jackson, Blondie, and numerous other artists in the NYC area. In the North Country, he had performed and recorded with numerous local groups including Grupo Sabor, Zip City Blues Band, Lucid, Funk Collection, etc. Dr. Davies had written numerous monographs and presented at various conferences including IAJE and CMS. His book on Cuban trumpet playing Trompeta: Chappottín, Chocolate, and the Afro-Cuban Trumpet Style was released by Scarecrow Press in 2003. He contributed a chapter on Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros to the book Music from Cuba which was released by Praeger Publications in 2001.

Dr. Davies had made many service contributions to the college and community. He has been a faculty senator and a member of the TL-TAG committee. He had created a number of courses for the music curricula at SUNY Plattsburgh. These include MUS305 Introduction to Music Technology, MUS114 American Pop, and MUS116 Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Music. As a performer and bandleader he had appeared on a myriad of occasions on and off campus. He had taken SUNY Plattsburgh’s Mambo Combo to various venues throughout the North Country. He was Zone A representative for the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) and served for three years on the Clinton and Franklin county decentralization panel for the N.Y. State Council on the Arts. He had co-authored grants funding the SUNY Plattsburgh music department’s Music Technology/Piano Lab and spearheaded the establishment of this state of the art facility.

Education

  • Ph.D. New York University

Teaching Areas

  • Jazz History
  • Brass
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Music Technology
  • Theory and Composition

Selected Performances

  • Musical Director, Wayne Gorbea’s Salsa Picante, performing and composing or arranging works for the group’s recordings including:
    • Cogele el Gusto
    • Saboreando
  • Netaid Concert at the Giants Stadium, live appearance in late 1999 with Wyclef Jean for President and Mrs. Clinton
  • Jackie Byard’s Phantasies II
  • VH1 Storytellers episode with Wyclef and the Refugee All-Stars
  • Salsa Picante in New York City and around the world

Selected Publications

  • Trompeta: Chappottin, Chocolate, and the Afro-Cuban Trumpet Tradition, Scarecrow Press 2003
  • Music from Cuba, contributed a chapter on Cuban trumpeter Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros for the book, edited by Charley Gerard, Praeger Press 2001

Awards

Herm Matlock on Rick Davies

I consider myself very lucky to have Rick Davies as one of my best friends for a little more than a decade. It is hard to limit myself to just one story. It is easier to give a characterization, but not in writing. Maybe the first time I ever heard him speak is good way to express how likeable Rick was. I was asked by Jo Ellen Miano to play lead trumpet in the pit orchestra for the Plattsburgh State production of “City of Angels” in 2003. Rick sat a few chair away from me, so there was no conversation. At one point, JoEl said to the orchestra, “Try to make this phase as mysterious and suspenseful as you can.” Rick responded, “Scarify it.” We all roared. Those were the only words Rick said that entire week. But it was so timely and creative that I will always remember the first words I heard him say. And that is a characterization of Rick Davies.