Emmy-Award winning trumpeter, composer and educator Orbert Davis is co-founder, conductor and artistic director of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), a 55+ piece symphonic jazz orchestra dedicated to bringing together audiences of diverse backgrounds through multi-genre projects. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Davis’ mission-driven career has evolved successfully from ‘making it in the music industry’ to being a true leader in Chicago’s arts and culture community. He is widely respected in not only all things JAZZ, but also for the distinctive ability to use his musical talents to make positive impacts on society through arts education and advocacy.
In 1998 Davis founded "Jazz Alive", (formerly known as "MusicAlive" and now the Arts Education outreach arm of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic) an interdisciplinary enrichment program that focuses on teaching life and academic skills through music and the Arts. Currently running in 9 Chicago Public Schools, the program also seeks to create and develop "jazz bands" at the elementary school level. In addition to the music education work that CJP does, Davis also owns and operates Discover Music: Discover Life, Inc. a company that develops curriculum and implements programs that uses music to teach academic and life skills.
Orbert has many composer commissions to his credit and has played key roles in major film and television projects as well, including his work as jazz consultant to Academy Award winning director Sam Mendes, for the feature film "Road to Perdition" starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Recent projects include "Home and Away", a Boeing commissioned project to honor our U.S. men and women in uniform, and an original score for the Emmy-Award winning national PBS documentary "DuSable to Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis" produced by WTTW, also where Orbert garnered his Emmy-Award for its soundtrack. Additionally, Orbert was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary "Beauty Rises: Four Lives in the Arts", also produced by WTTW and the Illinois Arts Council, and "Concierto for Generation I", a work commissioned by Nissan/Infiniti, inspired by the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan. “Concierto for Generation I” was part of a 2007 “Infiniti In Black” national advertising campaign which included a 2-page full-color ad of Orbert and the G35 Sedan in Ebony, Vibe, Essence and Black Enterprise magazines as well as online video documentary presentations.
Orbert's 2004 CD release entitled "Blue Notes", was the follow-up to his critically acclaimed "Priority" CD, which garnered an LA Times 4-star review, hit Top-50 "most played on national radio" Jazz CDs in 2002 and was named Top-10 best Jazz CDs of 2002 by the Chicago Tribune. His 2009 CD release of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s “Collective Creativity,” an amalgamation of classical music and jazz, received rave reviews on the national stage as well. Orbert’s latest release, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s “Sketches Of Spain [Revisited],” is an orchestral transformation of the 1960 iconic original by Miles Davis and Gil Evans and is currently receiving rave reviews internationally. Other Orbert Davis compositions for Chicago Jazz Philharmonic include Hope in Action (a tribute to Nelson Mandela) and Amadeus Had a Dream (for Chamber Ensemble). In Spring 2016, Orbert released “Havana Blue”, the highly anticipated live recording featuring his CJP Chamber Ensemble. Additionally, Orbert have received past commissions from Chicago Sinfonietta, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Illinois Arts Council.
Orbert recently celebrated his 240th show as radio personality and host of "The Real Deal with Orbert Davis", a weekly 3-hour program airing on 90.9fm WDCB (also streaming live online at wdcb.org). It’s no wonder Downbeat Magazine dubbed him "Orbert, Inc." in a four-page feature story, lauding a long career of note-worthy accomplishments.
Mr. Orbert Davis has a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University and a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University. He is a former associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and artist-in-residence at Columbia College Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife Lisa, their two daughters, Zoe and Sydney, and sons, Orbert and Benjamin.
Orbert Davis Recognitions and Awards:
2015 RAY of Illinois – Humanitarian of the Year
2015 WDCB 90.9fm – Chicago Jazz Artist of the Year
2012 Jazz Journalism Award – Jazz Hero
2011 Emmy-Award for Outstanding Craft Achievements Off-Air – Musical Composition/Arrangement “DuSable To Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis”
Orbert Davis and Mark Ingram, Composer/Producer, performed by CJP Chamber Ensemble
2011 Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll – Top 20 Big Bands
Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
2011 Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll – Top 20 Jazz Composers
2011 Chicago Jazz Festival “Artist in Residence” – Jazz Institute of Chicago
2010 Arts Legend Award – Arts Alliance Illinois
2008 Timuel Black Community Service Award – Jazz Institute of Chicago
2007 Honorary Associates Degree – Prairie State College
2002 “Chicagoan of the Year” – Chicago Magazine
2000 “Y2K’s Best Trumpeter” – Chicago Magazine
1995 “Arts People of the Year” – Chicago Tribune
1995 “Best Jazz Artist” – Cognac Hennessy National Award