Biography


"Mark plays with the touch of Teddy Wilson and the lines of Bud Powell."
-jazz legend Slide Hampton

"Mark Davis is a wonderful, swinging player with all the right stuff."
-Grammy award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch


Pianist Mark Davis has been a mainstay on the Milwaukee jazz scene for over twenty-five years. His performances display a strong sense of tradition, incorporating the innovations of the bebop masters while still keeping an ear to more modern sensibilities. Whether playing solo or backed by a hard-swinging rhythm section, he features unique arrangements of jazz standards as well as originals that bear the influence of jazz icons such as Bill Evans and Bud Powell. 

He began classical piano studies at age eight and soon took to improvising and composing. His teachers at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music included Adelaide Banaszynski and David Hazeltine. He later studied with jazz legend Barry Harris who remains one of Mark's primary inspirations as a player and educator. Mark began performing in Milwaukee jazz clubs while still a teenager. He gained early experience playing in groups led by local stars such as Berkeley Fudge, Manty Ellis, and Hattush Alexander. After completing high school, his interest in visual art led him to pursue an art degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He graduated in 1990 with highest honors. In 1992, after returning to Milwaukee, Mark began teaching at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and soon became Chair of Jazz Studies, overseeing one of the longest running jazz programs in the United States. Mark has taught many musicians of the local jazz scene and also mentors many young, up-and-coming musicians. Many have gone on to successful careers outside of Milwaukee, most notably Dan Nimmer who has been the pianist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra since 2005. Mark is also on the music faculty of Alverno College and Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Mark performs frequently as a soloist and as a member of various groups in and around Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. In 2002, he formed the group We Six. The group has served as a showcase for his compositions and arrangements as represented on the 2005 We Six CD, Bird Say. Mark has shared the stage with many internationally known performers such as Phil Woods, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Charles McPherson, Tom Harrell, Peter Bernstein, Vincent Herring, Slide Hampton, Frank Morgan, Brian Lynch, Greg Tardy, Ted Nash, Eric Alexander, Carl Allen, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton, Stefon Harris, Kurt Elling, Richie Cole, Jim Rotundi, Steve Davis, Joe Farnsworth, One For All, Richard Davis, Mark Vinci, Lynn Seaton, Elliot Zigmund, Joe Magnarelli, John Webber, Billy Peterson, Skip Bey, Bob Rockwell, Phil Wilson, Jackie Allen, Doc Severinsen, Greg Abate, Gerald Cannon, Jeff Chambers, Steve Rodby, George Fludas, Dave Pietro, Yoron Israel, Tiger Okoshi, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Mark has done work for the Hal Leonard Corporation including transcriptions for Miles Davis: Kind of Blue for their Transcribed Score Series. He has also made numerous recordings for their Real Book Play-Along series. His book, the Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Method, was released in September of 2015.

For booking or lesson information contact:
Mark Davis · (414) 350-5047

Go to the contact page to send an email.