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Davey Yarborough's impressive musical career has taken two distinct paths - those of accomplished performer and dedicated educator. Earning bachelor and master's degrees in education and performance, his university studies were augmented by studies on flute with the venerable Frank Wess and saxophone with the legendary Sonny Stitt.
As a performer, bandleader, composer and arranger, he has worked with Sir Roland Hanna, Keter Betts, Billy Eckstine, Buck Hill, Shirley Horn, Lena Horne and Joe Williams, to name a few. He has also collaborated with trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis, performing on Marsalis' Making the Music series on National Public Radio (NPR).
Davey also joined Wycliffe Gordon, Herlin Riley, Bill Easley and Reginald Veal on Gordon's new arrangement for the opening theme for NPR's All Things Considered. He has performed at the Kennedy Center's Jazz Club, the Millennium Stage, and Davey's sold-out performance for Dr. Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater Series at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, which was widely hailed as a highlight of the series.
As an educator, he returned to his alma mater, the University of the District of Columbia, as music instructor and director of the Jazz Stage Band. In 1986, Davey was recruited to create the jazz orchestra at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, and built what is now an internationally recognized Jazz Studies program and Jazz orchestra, "The New Washingtonians". It is there at Ellington that Davey continues to nurture and mentor aspiring performers in this legacy.
He received the coveted 1998 Mayor's Arts Award in Washington, D.C., for Excellence in Dedication to the Arts. During that same year, Connie Chung featured Davey in a sensitive, insightful piece on ABC's 20/20, chronicling his efforts on behalf of his students. The recipient of a 2000 Special Achievement Wammie, Davey also received the coveted Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award from the Greater Washington Urban League in 2000, for his work with students and within his community as a whole, as well as a DC Emancipation Day Image Award for 2001, The 2006 DC Youth Orchestra distinguished Alumni Award. and with his wife, Esther Williams, a Community Service Award from Kids In Trouble, In DC. Davey was also honored in 2004 by The Society, Inc., of DC for his dedication to the education of young people.
Established in 1998, The Washington Jazz Arts Institute, under his leadership is an extension of his legacy of education and mentoring. As Co-Founder/Artistic Director, Davey, with his talented and accomplished staff, guides young musicians through instruction, lecture, one-on-one with professionals, mentor opportunities and performance with their peers.
From 1988 to 1991, Davey's sax was part of the memorable background music for The Cosby Show. His composing and arranging talents are heard on the musical soundtrack for the movie Uptown Angel. In addition to performing at the East Coast, San Remo, Italy, and Montreaux Jazz Festivals, Davey has recorded four albums; Collaboration with pianist, Hilton Felton; It's Time for Love; Lovetones; and Beautiful Friendship with vocalist Esther Williams. A much sought after soloist, Davey appears on many recordings, including Ronnie Wells' Live at Montpelier, harpist Jeffmajors' New Age Soul and Sacred, and with bandleader, Bobby Felder, Christmas Jazz At Peoples Church, Jazz at Peoples Church, a New Experience and Amazing Grace.
A dynamic lecturer, Davey conceived and presented the Smithsonian Institution's Jazz Evenings for Young Professionals lecture series. An overwhelming success, that project led to his Journey into Jazz, which covers the history of jazz by combining a performance and lecture format.
Davey and the legendary Sir Roland Hanna
collaborated on JazzMont Records on a compilation of original compositions,
and Duke Ellington's music, coinciding with Duke's 100th birthday. "Royal
Essence", An Evening of Ellington is an important, historic project in
this genre of music.
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