Lesson 20/21

Drum Set Perspective
How Listening Evolved Over Time

As performers, we are constantly evolving in our musical per- spective. The music we listen to, the artists we’re influenced by, the experimentation with our own unique voice on the in- strument continues to change as we progress in our journey.

Keith Aleo caught up with Quincy Davis, Assoc. Professor of Jazz Drum Set at the University of North Texas to talk about how listening to different interpretations of the same song resulted in a different perspective, depending on his stage in life and approach to the instrument.



Currently Associate Professor of Jazz Drumset at the University of North Texas, Quincy Davis, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, comes from a very musical family. He began taking piano and drum lessons at age 6. In his elementary and middle school bands, he also played trumpet and tuba. Both of his parents are musicians who exposed him to different styles of music including instrumental jazz, European classical, gospel, opera, R&B and jazz-fusion.


His formal music studies began during his 11th grade year at Interlochen Arts Academy. There he studied classical percussion and began playing drumset in jazz bands with peers for the first time.


After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1995, Davis began studying at Western Michigan University (WMU). There he studied with the drum legend, Billy Hart. During his collegiate years, Davis gained experience playing in big bands and small groups at various collegiate jazz festivals. Davis’ talents would be recognized at these festivals through accolades by notable musicians Benny Green, Bunky Green, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Roy Haynes, Carl Allen, Louis Hayes and Wallace Roney.


After graduating from WMU in 1999, Davis taught elementary and middle school instrumental music in the Grand Rapids area for one year where he taught beginner, intermediate and advanced concert band before moving to New York City.


In the summer of 2000, Davis moved to New York City where he quickly became one of the highly sought after “young cats” on the New York jazz scene. In New York, Davis frequently played at all the famous jazz venues including Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Smalls, Jazz Standard, Birdland, Iridium, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club and Smoke.


During his time in New York City, Davis performed and toured with world-renowned musicians Frank Wess, Ernestine Anderson, Cecil McLorin-Salvant, Russell Malone, Eric Reed, Paquito D'Rivera, Kurt Elling, Christian McBride, Buster Williams, Eric Alexander, Leslie Odom Jr., Aaron Parks, Seamus Blake, Vanessa Rubin, Aaron Goldberg, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Heath, Gerald Clayton, The Clayton Brothers, Harold Mabern, Aaron Parks, Peter Bernstein, Regina Carter, David Hazeltine, Roy Hargrove, Randy Johnston, Bob Sheppard, Paula West, Houston Person, Curtis Fuller, New York Voices, The Mingus Orchestra, Ryan Kisor and Wessell Anderson. Davis still performs with many of these artists.


In 2010, Davis accepted a teaching position at the University of Manitoba (Canada) where he was the assistant professor of jazz drumset. He, along with the other world-renowned faculty, helped to bring more visibility to the program that has since produced some very successful students, winning many awards and making a name for themselves on the international stage.


In 2013, Quincy released his debut recording as a leader, Songs In the Key of Q, which rose to #1 on Jazz Week’s radio jazz chart. His sophomore release, Q Vision, was ranked #3 for 5 weeks. Both albums feature all original music written by Davis.


Davis began teaching at the University of North Texas in 2017 where he is currently chair of the drumset department.


Quincy can be heard on over 50 albums playing with many notable jazz artists including Tom Harrell, Gretchen Parlato, Benny Golson, Steve Nelson, Ted Rosenthal, Marcus Printup, Dave Stryker, Walt Weiskopf, Stefon Harris, Randy Napoleon, Benny Green, Aaron Diehl, Frank Wess, Bobby Watson, Xavier Davis, Danny Grissett, Vincent Gardner, Darmon Meader, Sachal Vasandani and many more.


Davis stays very active as a performer in the United States and internationally. His passion for teaching is not only evident through his teaching at the University of North Texas, but also through his many video lessons on jazz drumming and interviews with master drummers on his YouTube channel which currently has 15k subscribers.


Quincy is a proud endorser of Zildjian cymbals, Tama drums and Vic Firth drumsticks.