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Born in 1960, Jay Davenport grew up on the south side of Chicago, listening to jazz, jazz-fusion and lots of 60’s and 70’s R&B. After being particularly influenced by the different styles of his favorite drummers: Art Blakey, Billy Cobham and Steve Gadd, he set out to find his own niche and develop his own sound. He started out playing locally with Chicago-style R&B, soul and fusion bands, and at age 22, began his road career, touring the U.S. with The Dells, an iconic “doo-wop” group. 

Jay started playing the Blues when he was connected with blues/rock harmonica stalwart Sugar Blue, who had recently completed his performances on the Rolling Stone’s “Some Girls” album and tour, and was starting his own Chicago-based band. Jay enjoyed Sugar Blue’s emphasis on improvisation, and the way they fused traditional blues music with jazz and rock, so he joined the band and his blues journey was underway.

Early in their relationship, Blue wanted Jay to exhibit more expertise in traditional blues drumming. He put Jay in touch with retired, longtime Chess Records and Bo Diddley drummer, Clifton James, who agreed to mentor him. The two drummers spent many a night together, talking and playing drums, and bonding. James was adamant that Jay continue to infuse new ideas into his blues drumming, and he quickly blossomed into a high demand player on the Chicago Blues scene. Along with Sugar Blue, Jay played for Junior Wells, Valerie Wellington, Pinetop Perkins, Dion Payton, John Littlejohn, Jimmie Johnson and many other Chicago-based bands.


In the mid 90’s, Jay left the road, completed a degree in Mathematics, and began working as a computer applications developer. He satisfied his love of the drums by playing part-time with Chicago guitar phenom Melvin Taylor, working days in the office and nights and weekends behind the drum kit. This is where he began playing with bassist Greg Rzab, when they shared a stint with Taylor. The two really clicked as a rhythm section, and began collaborating on various projects, including the Talking Shoes - an eclectic trio with Ray White (singer/guitarist with Frank Zappa).


When John Mayall disbanded the Bluesbreakers in 2008, he invited his favorite bassist, Rzab, to join his new band. Once Greg accepted, John asked him and to recommend a drummer. Greg called Jay for the audition, and John invited him to come along to play drums for what was - at the time - John Mayall’s new quintet. Jay decided to resume his music career full-time, and has been touring, recording and growing as an artist with John Mayall ever since. During the past decade, Jay has manned the drums for John Mayall in the various incarnations of his band, now a member of the current trio.

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