Read in depth bio on Wikipedia
Billie Davies is a self-taught natural drummer and a composer best known for her free, instinctively avant-garde compositions since the mid nineties, and her improvisational drumming techniques she has performed in Europe and in the US. All of her music is improvisational ... a conversation between musicians and musical instruments, a joint emotional expression inspired by a certain feeling, thought or perspective that is being communicated to an audience, a listener, a community. Billie Davies hails originally from Brugge, Belgium. She played and performed all over Europe until immigrating to the United States at 32, where she has been active as a musician ever since.
While living and playing in the South of France in the early 1980's, Billie received a talent grant from Max Roach to study at Berklee College of Music.
Her 2012 release of “all about Love” solidified her position as a professional jazz musician. This recording of standards and original music, charted #1 in CMJ Jazz College Radio Charts for ‘top jazz add’ in new albums and went on to stay in the top 20 for 4 weeks. Also well received in Canada, the album ended up in the Top 10 on three different !Earshot Jazz charts.
In October, 2013 Billie released “12 VOLT” which garnered national and international attention. CJ Bond, JAZZ MUSIC, wrote, “12 VOLT” features exclusively original compositions of Billie Davies, and adds the crucial tyne of 'composer/arranger' to her sterling artistic fork, augmenting fearless innovation. Jan Hocek of His Voice in Prague wrote:”Without hesitation - HIGH VOLTAGE avant-garde JAZZ - one of the most remarkable trio albums of the year!"
In 2013 Billie Davies received the "Jazz Artist of the Year" Award by the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards.
In March of 2014 she moved to New Orleans where she has graced stages ever since and recorded 3 albums.
She received more attention due to a player feature in Downbeat Magazine May 2016 edition, "BILLIE DAVIES '20 Years Stronger'".
"On Hollywood Boulevard", her CD released in 12/10/2016 became a January 2017 Editor's Pick on DownBeat.com.
December 2017 Billie Davies was nominated for "Best Contemporary Jazz Artist" in New Orleans by 2017 Best Of The Beat Awards.
September 2018 She released "PERSPECTIVES II" by BILLIE DAVIES trio Featuring Ari Kohn, woodwinds, Iris P, vocals and Allie Porter, vocals.
December 2019 Billie Davies was nominated "Best Drummer" in New Orleans by 2019 Best Of The Beat Awards.
“Billie Davies is a very accomplished free-jazz drummer. Born in Belgium, she now lives in New Orleans, having spent much of her life living peripatetically. The press release and liner notes of this CD are full of stories and these provide both an introduction and, I think, an explanation of her playing. Previous reviewers have made much of the self-taught nature of her drumming. While this is a feature of one of the stories in the press release, I defy any listener to distinguish her playing from someone ‘schooled’ in jazz drumming. There is a vitality and fluidity in the way that she plays the drum kit and this is what I mean by the idea that her stories explain her drumming; she speaks through the drums to the other players, asking questions of them and replying with the fusion of styles that she has built up over her travels. ”- Chris Baber, Jazz Views (Jun 30, 2016)
By 1977 Billie was working in the Private Night Club sector as a DJ in Cologne, Germany. That set the stage for a successful DJ career in Belgium a few years later, she remembers "Les Cinq Anneaux" where she packed the house every weekend. She became one of the top DJs in demand in Private Night Clubs, Disco Clubs and Bars.
Aged 25 Davies started the transition to become a professional musician.
She played and performed all over Europe, in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece for the next 7 years.
At a crossroads in her musical career, in 1984, while living and performing in the South of France (Montpellier, Toulouse, Biarritz, La Rochelle), Billie ended up receiving a grant from Max Roach to come study at Berklee College of Music, this was after he heard one of her tapes she laid down with a bass player in Montpellier, France. Billie was however having too much fun in the south of France, living the life of a gypsy jazz musician and therefore decided not to take the offer. In his words: "Hearing from your tape, you could learn more fundamental drumming techniques, but I also hear the natural drummer, so my advice is for you not to worry too much about your technical skill, you will develop your own, I can definitely hear that, but just in case that you might want to study in a good program, please accept my invitation in the form of a talent grant to come study at the Berklee College of Music, all you need to worry about is finding a place to live and some money to survive".
A move to the United States at 32 gave her an opportunity to play all over the west coast. In 1987 in Oregon, she met and played a few times with Leroy Vinegar, and then later in early 1988 she moved to California, San Francisco where she was mostly active in North Beach and in the Lower-Haight district, where she met and ended up playing a few times with John Handy and played frequently with local jazz notables at their unforgiving jams, in her words: the best learning school she ever had.
In the mid-nineties she recorded "Cobra Basemento", that included "The Man From Tollund", and "Dreams", the infamous boombox recordings, in the Bay Area. They were never commercially released but preserved for the future.
In 2009, she moved to Hollywood, California and released "all about Love." with Tom Bone Ralls and Oliver Steinberg and "12 VOLT" with Daniel Coffeng and Adam Levy and was awarded best Jazz Artist in 2013 by LAMA.
In March of 2014 she moved to New Orleans where she has released "Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon", with Evan Oberla, Alex Blaine, Branden Lewis and Ed Strohsahl, "On Hollywood Boulevard" with Evan Oberla, Oliver Watkinson and Iris P and "PERSPECTIVES II" with Evan Oberla, Oliver Watkinson, Ari Kohn, Iris P and Allie Porter and was nominated "Best Contemporary Jazz Artist" by 2017 Best Of The Beat Awards and OffBeat Magazine and "Best Drummer" by 2019 Best Of The Beat Awards.
Discography As leader:
2004: Cobra Basemento
2012: all about Love.
2013: 12 VOLT
2015: "Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon"
2016: "On Hollywood Boulevard"
2018: "PERSPECTIVES II"
Discography As collaborator:
2020: "Whadeva" with Damani Butler and Maude Caillat. A Damani Butler project.
“The spiritual jazz tradition, as exemplified by John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, has been having a resurgence over the past few years in places like Los Angeles and Great Britain. Now here is evidence that some musicians in New Orleans are going down that path as well. Billie Davies is a drummer from Belgium who now lives and works in the Big Easy and this recording, Perspectives II, available only in download form, captures a live performance of her trio, plus added guests, creating over an hour of heady, uplifting music. This is a loose, free-flowing concoction not quite like anything else out there. Like the best forward-thinking music, Billie Davies' work reminds you of many different things but in the end, it is its own original beast, as powerful as anything more well-known musicians have created this year.”