After eight years of performing together, Davis and Dow have established their musical voice. The later part of 2000 found them finishing up their second CD, “Naked," and then traveling to Tokyo, Japan for a 3 month engagement at the world famous Compass Rose, a wonderful experience culminating an open invitation to return. Working on the road is not foreign to the duo. From their home base in South Florida, their musical abilities have taken them to New Jersey, Grand Cayman, South Carolina, Georgia, London and New York City, as well as a the prestigious annual transatlantic Swing Cruise aboard the QEII with the Larry Elgart Orchestra.
They are now involved in exposing their second CD “Naked," which was recorded on the Agape Jazz label. “Naked” is nationally distributed and is still winning awards and gaining the attention of critics and fans alike. It made Jazz Times Magazine's Best of 2001 issue, and receives nationwide airplay. Once again, uncamouflaged by the intrusion of electronic embellishment, they have presented timeless standards in their purist form. Their passion and respect for the jazz classics, those precious gems from the pens of Ellington, Strayhorn, LeGrand, Mercer and others, is evident in everything they do, and “Naked” remains true to their unwavering vision. Like all of their performances, it features unique arrangements to some of the most beautiful music ever written. This CD and their debut recording “All Shades” skillfully tackle seldom heard vocal renditions of tunes like “Night in Tunisia," ”Caravan," “Take Five," and “Stella by Starlight” as well as familiar tunes introduced by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and other legendary vocalists. Both “All Shades” and “Naked” provide the listener with an opportunity to enjoy Davis and Dow's solid improvisational skills on some challenging material. As Alan Bargebuhr of Cadence magazine states: “These studio tracks obviously represent the culmination of much performance time spent together. This duo presents itself as a unit that breathes and thinks as one...Dow's guitar is positively orchestral in support...Davis' scatting suggests she probably learned how in her bassinet.”
Julie Davis, born in 1970 in San Angelo, Texas, grew up in a house filled with big band, jazz, and classical music. She was particularly touched by recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Shirley Horn, and Carmen McRae, from whom she also learned the beautiful jazz standards. She was encouraged to sing often because her family believed she possessed a certain gift.She spent her teen years in Austin, Texas, a town well known for its world of music and interacted with the local artists. In 1994 she moved to South Florida to pursue a career in music. Julie worked with several world renowned musicians including Ira Sullivan, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, However, she soon aspired to form her own group with which she could develop a personal style with arrangements and tunes of her own choosing. That in mind, she placed an ad in a local musicians' magazine.
Kelly Dow, born in 1966 in Lubbock, Texas, grew up in the small town of Hobbs, New Mexico. In 1984 he began to study jazz guitar at the Herb Ellis and Jackie King southwest guitar conservatory. At that time he was also introduced to the artistry of Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Hank Garland, and Grant Green, who helped to establish the direction he wanted to take with his music. The following year he enrolled in the jazz program at the University of North Texas. There, professors Jack Petersen and Dan Harle emphasized the value of playing standards and combining your mind, fingers, and heart to make the music sound and feel good. After graduating in 1990 he moved to Florida to play in the shows on cruise ships. This afforded him time to travel, meet other musicians and practice his craft. Four years later he picked up that same musicians magazine Julie placed an ad in. There nestled between 'metal heads' and 'original-slash guitarist' and everything else was Julie's ad, “Singer, into Ella, Sarah, looking for musicians to rehearse and form a group with. ”The names Ella and Sarah caught his attention and he answered the ad.
An immediate friendship was formed when they discovered their common love for the music, as well as an appreciation for each other's sense of humor and talent. Before they knew it they found themselves deeply in love. From the start they felt a strong musical chemistry as they began to successfully work together. They began focusing on building a repertoire that consisted of their musical influences.
Â The duo recordings made by Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, and Tuck and Patti inspired them in the capacity that duos can be successful and that there are no boundaries to the repertoire. They have recorded three originals so far. “Go On Home” and “Right As Rain” are on their All Shades CD and “Deja vous” is on the Naked CD. “Even more impressive is how their own originals blend seamlessly with the line-up of standards.“ says Larry Getlen of Jam Magazine.
With their own unique style and arrangements, they learned that the duo is not limited because it is two pieces, it is more versatile because they allow their voice and guitar to take on many different roles musically. Not only do they draw their inspiration from guitar and vocal music, it comes from all of the great masters of jazz: Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson the list goes on and on. This is what has allowed the duo significant artistic freedom. “We all stand on the shoulders of giants”.
Davis and Dow are currently playing in the South Florida jazz scene at clubs, festivals, and private parties where they are well loved and received and invited back. In fact, Julie has been voted Best Female Vocalist in City Link Magazine's Best Of Broward and Palm Beach County's Annual Entertainment Guide. At the time she was described as having “...more jazz savvy than most singers twice her age... She's everything from scat singer to balladeer and can go from a whisper to a scream faster than a Ferrari can go from 0 to 60.” Then said Larry Getlen of Jam Magazine in describing “All Shades," “She sings with just-a-breathy-enough quality, giving the lyrics the appropriate passion and leaving ample room for bursts of vocal power. When Davis sings, every note counts. Dow lays down soulful accompaniment, combining an array of lead fill, classic jazz chord phrasings, and bass runs that leaves just the right amount of musical space. The couples' song selection exudes class.” Again in 2000 they were singled out when Davis and Dow were selected as “Best Jazz Artists” readers choice by New Times Magazine's Best Of Broward And Palm Beach County's annual picks. Recently they received “Best Jazz Album-2001” for Naked from The Florida Music Association.
Davis and Dow have had the opportunity to record with others individually and together. They enjoy the versatility of larger ensembles as the need arises, and often put together their own trio, quartet, or quintet. In 1998 Davis and Dow produced and performed a concert/lecture for the Museum Of Art Fort Lauderdale. The show titled, The Seven Divas Of Jazz, was part of a series of lectures that celebrated female artists of 1917-1945 sponsored by the museum and its affiliates. The multimedia presentation was a success consisting of sound bytes, readings about the diva's lives and an eclectic, exciting performance by the Davis and Dow quartet. Working in a group format is very rewarding and allows the duo to expand in other ways, yet, working as a duo is what they enjoy most. It is becoming a lost art especially today in this world of synthesized, mechanized aesthetic. Davis and Dow particularly love perpetuating the concept of duo because they are out there openly displaying their individual talent and emotion, and in a sense they really are NAKED.
Of the eight choices provided to define this word “Naked," No. 6 “devoid of concealment or disguise," best describes the jazz duo of Davis and Dow. The Duo format doesn't leave much room to hide and you can't fake it. It takes nerve and self-confidence for a vocalist to present a song without the rhythmic support of a drummer and the harmonic backup of a piano and bass. And it takes an equal level of confidence and ability for a single instrumentalist to supply all the missing supports and at the same time contribute to the melodic flow of the song. Davis and Dow are equal to the challenge. Julie is a singer that takes chances; she is a stylist that seeks an original twist to everything she performs. Kelly's versatility on the guitar allows him the freedom to swing from blues to bebop, rock to classical and back again, all without losing the beat or the feeling. When she and Kelly approach a song they make it their own. They take the essence of the song and reshape it to the unique qualities that only they can bring to it. And there is always room in the arrangement for free flowing improvisation both vocally and instrumentally.
Michael Mattox Heat Beat Magazine May 2001
Sometimes, you've gotta get their attention before dazzling them with the goods. That's what jazz team Davis and Dow accomplish on their latest CD, Naked, which poses them on the cover wearing nothing more than Dow's guitar. Julie Davis' sensual purr is used to great effect as she goes from coquettish to introspective, accompanied by Kelly Dow's multi-textured playing. Standards are revived, but Davis and Dow's love for the music and sterling chops keep them from sounding routine. Davis is also an engaging performer, and we guarantee you won't take your eyes off the charismatic singer, even with her clothes on.
Bob Weinberg City Link Magazines May 2001
Naked CD is skillful
One of South Florida's favorite duo's, is releasing its second album, the provocatively titled (and photographed) Naked. Julie Davis is a confident young singer with a compelling stage presence and a girlish tinge to her voice. Kelly Dow, is a brilliant guitarist who chooses unexpected chords and arrangements. Most songs are standards, but some are performed in decidedly nonstandard ways. On On Green Dolphin Street, for instance, Davis' vocals float through the unusual intervals of Dow's walking chords. Even with just voice and guitar, Davis & Dow manage to swing and keep their music full of excitement.
Matt Schudel South Florida Sun-Sentinel April 2001
“Brazen Excellence...this duo presents itself as a unit that breaths and thinks as oneâ¦Dows' guitar is Positively orchestral in support...Davis' scatting suggests she probably learned in her bassinet.”
Alan Bargebuhr Jazz Critic Cadence Magazine
“Soul Times Twoâ¦ Music courses through Davis like an electric currentâ¦ the twosome offer an incredibly personal glimpse into their souls' underwear drawer..”
Bob Weinberg Jazz/Blues Columnist-XS Magazine
Davis has an inviting voice that blends a little girl lilt with a late night wink. Dow has a sensitive touch on guitar, and his relaxed rhythms and multihued chords give the duo's arrangements a steady swingin' pulse..”
Matt Schudel Jazz Columnist Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
“Jazz duos are rare, one's this good are jewels”
Bill Meredith Jazz Columnist City Link Magazine