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On Ka'a Davis - JPop.com
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On Ka'a Davis

On Ka'a Davis

On Ka'a Davis


An incessant pulse runs through the African diaspora; it’s the beat that tears the roof off the cerebral avant garde. Classically trained experimental guitarist On Ka’a Davis discovered it while squatting in the once derelict tenements of the Lower East Side. Davis and his Famous Original Djuke Music Players take this pulse and retrace the long-lost taproot of a future music. “The very first time I saw Sun Ra and his Arkestra was in Central Park,” Davis recalls. Read more on Last.fm
An incessant pulse runs through the African diaspora; it’s the beat that tears the roof off the cerebral avant garde. Classically trained experimental guitarist On Ka’a Davis discovered it while squatting in the once derelict tenements of the Lower East Side. Davis and his Famous Original Djuke Music Players take this pulse and retrace the long-lost taproot of a future music. “The very first time I saw Sun Ra and his Arkestra was in Central Park,” Davis recalls. “They walked through the crowds, passing right by me.

They were all wearing Egyptian make-up on their faces and I thought, ‘This is the Blackest band I have ever seen in my life. This is Deep Nubian music.’” Two years after this revelation, Davis was playing in the Arkestra himself, living in the communal setting in Philadelphia that was the social basis for Sun Ra’s group. Davis traveled far to reach deep: from the R&B and prog rock grooves of his childhood home in Cleveland to the rigorous classical guitar training at Vienna’s Hochschule für Darstellende Kunst, to the rollicking Roma riffs of the Austrian streets. There, he saw the ripple effect of jazz in a whole new light, discovering the bebop solos of Charlie Parker, the European classical gestures of Keith Jarrett, the worldly improvisation of John McLaughlin. Busking alongside Roma musicians for pocket money, Davis experienced the “subset culture” of gypsy life, a world that caused him to reflect on his own complex African-American heritage. Davis eventually wound up on New York’s Lower East Side, where he played for punks in the squatter revolution that transformed the neighborhood in the 1980s.

The squatters’ battle to reclaim the derelict shells of Lower Manhattan had its sonic side, with a groundbreaking (and regulation-defining) micro-broadcasting radio station and infamous shows in myriad basements. It was in the squat that the outlines of what Davis calls djuke emerged, a music that draws on everything from Afrobeat sensibilities to Spanish classical guitar to space culture. “The first idea for my music came out of basement rehearsing,” says Davis. “Our building on 13th Street hosted a lot of squat parties, and all the punks would come. That was the first beginnings of the music.

Some of the point of view I express in my music has been tempered by my experience of being in a squat, by my need to express socially conscious ideals.” Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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