Mostly growing up between Bruges and the coast of Belgium in Knokke, Blankenberge and Zeebrugge, her grandfather, Maurice Clybouw (1912 Eernegem - 1984 Bruges), who immigrated with his parents to Paris, France, when he was 8 in 1920 and moved back to Belgium, Bruges in 1943 (Monique Clybouw), was the first to introduce her to the drums when Billie was about three years old. She has had a love relationship with rhythm and drums ever since.
Her mother, Simone Clybouw (Paris (Reuil-Malmaison 1934 - ), was her biggest influence on a personal and artistic level, and introduced her to Jazz and Classical music before Billie had made her first footstep. It was her mother who sent Billie to music school when she was 7, which did not work out very well, and who introduced her to live jazz and other music performances from when she was a toddler until she was a young teenager, and introduced her to the world of art, entertainers, painters, poets and professors, musicians and chefs and very nice friends who loved the same things. While Billie grew up with music from Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, Toots Thielemans, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Mozart, Ravel, Paganini, Vivaldi and Chopin, in her ears, at age 11 Billie began singing with school choirs and church choirs.
At age 12, Billie’s first stage performance was with a Youth Opera in St-Kruis (Bruges), a rendition of Romeo and Juliet fashioned Billie as Romeo due to her exceptional vocal range and sense of music and theatre. She was 14 when Billie was awarded a Royal Academy of Fine Art first prize, which was awarded to her for a mixed media on paper, collage, aquatint and chinese ink, entitled: Love and Peace, she had submitted by invitation from her teacher.
As she continued to develop her love of the arts some of the highlights were, at age 14, her first performance as a drummer playing John Lennon’s “Power to the People” on plastic buckets, and aluminum lids in front of a crowd of about 100 kids at the beach in De Panne where she also sang a duet "Who'll Stop the Rain" by John Foggerty. At age 17, at the Royal Opera House of Bruges, she directed and choreographed a group of 5 performers and co-performed in Sunshiny Days, which was inspired by writer Johnny Nash’s song "I Can See Clearly Now" and the music of Gladys Knight and the Pips. The audience demanded an encore.
With DJing becoming such a huge part of our culture by the time she reached 18, Billie had started presenting professionally in the entertainment industry in Bruges where she specifically remembers the "Saaihalle", which now seems to be The Frietmuseum, where she enjoyed her first DJ adventures, "Le Carrousel", that since has transformed into a hotel, where she worked as a bartender/DJ from around 5pm to 2am and mostly entertained the Opera crowd, singers, directors, artists and Opera employees, and her absolute favorite, the hottest small jazz club in town in 1976-77, "Het Patriciershof" on the Jan Van Eyck Square, Jan van Eyckplein, where she worked from around 2-2:30 am to 8 am and where René, one of the owners and an old jazz friend of her mother, introduced her to the jazz of Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davies, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Lester Bowie, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp and even more at the time considered obscure jazz musicians, and where she became a bartender and Dj, and entertained the Jazz crowd of Bruges deep nightlife that usually consisted of entertainers, musicians, painters, writers, chefs, hair stylists, fashion designers, models, gamblers and lots of whisky drinkers which were served "under the table" due to the existing prohibition of no alcohol to be served in public. All these experiences further enriched her love of rhythms and beats, of music, of jazz, cementing her desire to pursue drumming and fulfilling her need to entertain. As an early adult at 21, Billie became a solo singer for 1 year with the Royal Army Choir of Belgium. The high point of that adventure was singing at the Antwerp Opera with a complete symphonic orchestra. A year later, her voice underwent a dramatic change and she never felt comfortable singing again.
"Davies is mostly an autodidact whose natural talent, relentless, explorative spirit and multifaceted experiences have led to an innovative approach to jazz." (Hryar Attarian)
By 1977 Billie was working in the Private Night Club sector as a DJ in Cologne, Germany. That set the stage for a successful DJ career in Belgium a few years later, she remembers "Les Cinq Anneaux" where she packed the house every weekend by taking the crowd to a different world every night. She became one of the top DJs in demand in Private Night Clubs, Disco Clubs and Bars.
And then there were the drums that just never stopped...
She remembers she was working at the Doordrinker in Bruges as a Bartender/DJ/Manager when one cold winter night a deep realization happened within her consciousness... she was a natural drummer. It was also where she had her very first performance with NÔËDELSÇH in 1980 with Pol Pieter Leemans on guitar who helped her get her first kick while playing the drums, coming from deep down in the stomach area, hurling out on the drums, crying and laughing, and get an unexplainable feeling of a certain energy taking control.
Aged 25 Davies started the transition to become a professional musician.
At a crossroads in her musical career, while living and playing and performing with Claude Mazet in the South of France (Montpellier, Toulouse, Biarritz, La Rochelle), Billie ended up receiving a grant from Max Roach to come study at Berklee College of Music, this was after he heard one of her tapes she laid down with a bass player in Montpellier, France. Billie was however having too much fun in the south of France, living the life of a gypsy jazz musician and therefore decided not to take the offer. In his words: "Hearing from your tape, you could learn more fundamental drumming techniques, but I also hear the natural drummer, so my advice is for you not to worry too much about your technical skill, you will develop your own, I can definitely hear that, but just in case that you might want to study in a good program, please accept my invitation in the form of a talent grant to come study at the Berklee College of Music, all you need to worry about is finding a place to live and some money to survive".
Becoming completely immersed into the jazz, free jazz and avant-garde world, which is second nature to her stylistically, three years later, she was a professional drummer, and the rest is history...
She played and performed all over Europe, in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece for the next 7 years. She knew her love of drumming had become her life. "A Revelation for her was meeting with legendary guitarist Ricardo Baliardo, but known by his stage name Manitas de Plata, as well as playing with bluesman Claude Mazet - both guitarists also respected the traditional rhythmic rules. Even with the Roma, she lived several years in their way of life, which satisfied her bohemian temper so that at twenty-five she refused the offer of the legendary drummer Max Roach to study at Berklee College Of Music in Boston".(Jan Hocek)
A move to the United States at 32 gave her an opportunity to play all over the west coast. In 1987 in Oregon, she played in Astoria, Seaside, Manzanita and Portland, where she met and played a few times with Leroy Vinegar, and then later in early 1988 she moved to California, San Francisco where she was mostly active in North Beach and in the Lower-Haight district, where she met and ended up playing a few times with John Handy and played frequently with infamous local jazz notables at their infamous and unforgiving jams, in her words: the best learning school she ever had.
She recorded two albums in the mid-nineties, "Cobra Basemento" and "Dreams" with Saul Kaye on guitar and Michael Godwin on bass, "the infamous boombox recordings", in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 1997 she moved to Napa, California where for a while she held a jazz jam on Sunday evenings with Drew Waters on bass and other local musicians at a local jazz bar and performed a lot of invitationals in the Bay Area with local pro jazz and blues bands.
In 2009, she made Los Angeles, California her home base and in 2011, in Hollywood, she began writing for her new album "all about Love." and started the process of choosing musicians to develop her sound for the album. In June 2012 she independently released "all about Love." with Tom Bone Ralls on trombone and Oliver Steinberg on bass.
In April 2013, Davies recorded "12 VOLT" with Daniel Coffeng on guitar and Adam Levy on bass. It was published in September 2013 and released on October 10, 2013.
On November 14, 2013 Billie Davies received the "Jazz Artist Of The Year" Award by the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards.
In March of 2014 she moved her operations to New Orleans where she since permanently resides and works and has been fortunate to be welcomed on the stages of Sweet Lorraine's in the Treme, Blue Nile Balcony Room on Frenchmen Street, The Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Str., Dos Jefes in Uptown, The Prime Example in the Gentilly, The Old Point in Algiers, The Louisiana Music Factory, The Old US Mint at Music At The Mint, et al.
In April of 2015 she recorded "Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon". An homage to Serge Vandercam (Copenhagen, Denmark, 1924 - Wavre, Belgium, March 10, 2005). A symphony inspired by paintings by Serge Vandercam and drums by Billie Davies (Brugge, Belgium, 1955). The painter influenced by the drummer and the drummer influenced by the painter over a period of three days of the full moon. A collaborative work, conceived in 1995 resulting 20 years later in a series of 7 paintings by Serge Vandercam, 1 painting by Billie Davies and a jazz symphony of 8 musical movements by the BILLIE DAVIES Ensemble. The album was recorded at her studio with Alex Blaine on tenor sax, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Evan Oberla on trombone, and Ed Strohsahl on upright bass.
In November of 2015 “BILLIE & The Bad Boyzzzz” Jazz Ensemble came to the stage with Evan Oberla on trombone, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Ari Kohn on reeds and Oliver Watkinson on upright bass.
In February of 2016 she formed BILLIE DAVIES trio with Evan Oberla and Oliver Watkinson, moving into a very electric, Nu jazz direction.
Summer of 2016 Billie Davies started A Nu Experience with IRIS P on vocals, Evan Oberla on electric piano, synthesizer and trombone, Oliver Watkinson on electric bass and Billie on electronic drums. By the end of that summer the new recording "On Hollywood Boulevard" had become a reality and so established BILLIE DAVIES - A Nu Experience - Feat. IRIS P.
"With a background in Classical and Jazz and a lifetime of musical experiences in jams, performances, recordings and music production, the listener is treated to jazz inclinations within her ensembles that bristle with cutting-edge freshness." (C.J. Bond)
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ACCOLADES (from Wikipedia)
Her third release after a hiatus of six years was "all about Love", which had a surprising result on the CMJ Jazz College Radio Charts and achieved the #1 top jazz add in new album adds."all about Love" went on to stay in the Top 40 jazz for four consecutive weeks. CMJ Top 40 JAZZ:
- 1 CMJ Top Jazz Adds CMJ issue #1262 - AUG 23, 2012. (Charts)
- 28 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1263 - AUG 29, 2012. (Charts)
- 14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1264 - SEP 06, 2012. (Charts)
- 14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 - SEP 13, 2012.
- 20 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 - SEP 20, 2012.
"all about Love" was also very well received in Canada where the album ended up in the Top 10 on three different !Earshot Jazz charts:
Even though the release of "12 VOLT" was not promoted to Radio stations/Charts, in the true spirit of the bohemian, it received great reviews nationally and internationally and it got her a nomination for "Jazz Artist" of the Year at the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards on September 26, 2013.
- 5 !Earshot Jazz National Jazz Charts w/e SEPT 25, 2012. (Charts)
- 2 !Earshot Jazz CJSW 90.9 MHz - Calgary Jazz w/e SEPT 25, 2012. (Charts)
- 8 !Earshot Jazz CJSR 88.5 MHz - Edmonton Jazz w/e NOV 20, 2012. (Charts)
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DISCOGRAPHY (As a leader)
- 2004: Cobra Basemento (Self Released) with Saul Kaye, Michael Godwin
- 2005: Dreams (Self Released) with Saul Kaye, Michael Godwin, Lee Elfenbein
- 2012: all about Love. (Cobra Basement) with Tom Bone Ralls on trombone, Oliver Steinberg on upright bass and electric bass
- 2013: 12 VOLT (Cobra Basement) with Daniel Coffeng on electric guitar, Adam Levy on upright bass
- 2015: Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon (Cobra Basement) with Alex Blaine on tenor sax, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Evan Oberla on trombone, Ed Strohsahl on upright bass.
- 2016: On Hollywood Boulevard (Self Produced) with Iris P vocals, Evan Oberla on electric piano, synthesizer, trombone, Oliver Watkinson on electric bass.
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All of her music is improvisational... a conversation between musicians and musical instruments, a joint emotional expression inspired by a certain common feeling, thought or perspective that is being communicated to an audience, a listener, a community.
Most of her influences stem from Classical, Gypsy, Manouche, Blues, Jazz, Free Jazz, Avant-jazz, Avant-garde, Soul and Funk. As a player she feels that Al Foster, Billy Higgins, Billy Cobham, Jack De Johnette, and Ed Thigpen, have been her biggest influences, she learned from them extensively while she admired the cool styles of Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams.
Her deep rooted influences: Classical, Jazz, Free Jazz and Avant Jazz, Avant Garde, Gypsy, Manouche, Blues.
Major influences: Jack De Johnette, Billy Higgins, Billy Hart, Al Foster, Ed Thigpen, Billy Cobham... Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Important influences: Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams... Music produced under The ECM label in the 70's/80's with artists such as Dollar Brand, Abdulah Ibrahim, Jan Garbarek, John Abercrombie, Terje Rypdal, Charles Lloyd became an important influence and her inspirations have been influenced by Carla Bley, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Chopin, Ravel, Serge Vandercam, Matisse, Manitas de Plata, Irene Papas, Vangelis, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Trilok Gurtu, Klaus Schulze, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Charles Trenet, George Brassens, Mozart, Bach, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Christian Dotremont, the CoBrA movement, Bram Bogart, Hugo Claus, Gaudi, Braque, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Miro, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and so many more... and ~~~ Universal Energy ~~~.
“LOUD AND CLEAR
What Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins accomplished in “The Shape of Jazz to Come” was not in vain, I heard it!!!...
What Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor left us was not in vain, I heard it!!!...
LOUD AND CLEAR
It is my roots, answering, calling, and continuing the Mission of liberating the notes to be free and the sounds to be re-invented, re-explored, so that others will hear and see and feel the ROOTS.
So that others may IDENTIFY with it. As I Do.
So that this extremely FREE, Heart Beating, Soul Searching, Mind Bending form of FINE ART through the medium of MUSIC... be still here
after I am gone...
UNCONSTRAINED by color, race, gender, dogma, politics, fashion and trends and money.
LOUD AND CLEAR”
Nu jazz, also known as jazztronica, is a genre of contemporary electronic music. The term was coined in the late 1990s to refer to music that blends jazz elements with other musical styles, such as funk, soul, electronic dance music, and free improvisation.
According to critic Tony Brewer, “Nu Jazz is to (traditional) Jazz what punk or grunge was to Rock, of course. [...] The songs are the focus, not the individual prowess of the musicians. Nu Jazz instrumentation ranges from the traditional to the experimental, the melodies are fresh, and the rhythms new and alive. It makes Jazz fun again.” (Wikipedia)
Avant-garde jazz (also known as avant-jazz) is a style of music and improvisation that combines avant-garde art music and composition with jazz. Avant-jazz often sounds very similar to free jazz, but differs in that, despite its distinct departure from traditional harmony, it has a predetermined structure over which improvisation may take place. This structure may be composed note for note in advance, partially or even completely. The origins of avant-garde jazz are in the innovations of the immediate stylistic successors of Charlie Parker. Musicians such as Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane introduced modal improvisation and experimented with atonality and dissonance. Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, and Ornette Coleman became controversial jazz innovators. (Wikipedia)
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