Richard Davis obituary

US jazz bassist who worked with Van Morrison and Sarah Vaughan and later became a professor of bass at Wisconsin University

There is a powerful undercurrent to Van Morrison’s folk-rock album Astral Weeks that generations of fans may have sensed without knowing it – the coolly sensuous presence of its double bass player and de facto musical director, Richard Davis, who has died aged 93.

Davis was a natural enabler who was uninterested in drawing attention to himself. Astral Weeks (1968) was a classic example of that reality, since Morrison had issued the session musicians on the album with few directions, and it was Davis who led his jazz colleagues in figuring out most of the band parts on the fly. According to the record’s producer, Lewis Merenstein, Davis’s unobtrusive presence turned out to be “the soul of the album”.

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