A musician has got to hear the music. If it’s going to be good, his bones ought to feel it. If it’s going to make sense and take listeners to a higher level, then his brain must process the keys, chords, and arrangements. However, his hands…well, nothing can happen between what he hears, feels, and understands without his hands.
Mel Davis, Hammond B3 Organist Extraordinaire, has understood the power of his hands to transport the sound of instruments from his imagination to a concert hall or nightclub full of eager twitching bodies for all of his life, dating back to childhood.
The Hammond’s big band grooves, thanks to masters and club mentors such as George Benson, Larry Young, Jr., Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff and Dr. Lonnie Smith, worked their way into Davis’ DNA. Eventually his hands were walking and talking good music. But 24 years ago, Davis lost the ability to play with his hands. Caught in the motorized belt of a fast-moving container-making machine where he worked to supplement his music income, a finger was ripped from his left hand, which was also split diagonally.
Eight painful years and seven grueling operations was what it took for Davis to rehabilitate that hand and those fingers before he could play again. Even his brain underwent reconstruction. It had to adjust to Davis now playing bass with his left, chords and melodies with his right; the opposite way he learned and opposite the way most musicians play.
Immediately following his complete recovery, Davis has played, worked and recorded with the legendary jazz guitarist George Benson. During the 1998 and 1999 Newark Jazz Festival organ jams, Davis headlined with Benson, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco, Rhoda Scott and Seleno Clark with a guest appearance by Youngblood; and currently, travels the globe…England, Italy, Japan, Spain the Netherlands and more with jazz guitarist Ronny Jordan.