Emmy Award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator, Orbert Davis is co-founder, conductor and Artistic Director of CHICAGO JAZZ PHILHARMONIC, a 55+ piece jazz-symphonic orchestra dedicated to multi-genre projects. Davis is also Clinical Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago. One of Chicago’s busiest and most sought after musicians, Chicago Magazine has named Orbert Davis "Y2k Best Trumpeter in Chicago" and "Chicagoan of the Year for 2002."
Most recently, Davis won an Emmy Award for the composition and production of an original score for the national PBS documentary, “DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis.” He himself was featured on the critically acclaimed documentary “Beauty Rises: Four Lives in the Arts” (2006), produced by WTTW and the Illinois Arts Council. In 2010, he received the “Arts Legend Award” from the Arts Alliance Illinois, a statewide arts advocacy group, recognizing his mission-based accomplishments in both performance and education. In September 2011, Davis was named Artist-In-Residence for the Chicago Jazz Festival, an honor never before held by a Chicagoan.
His latest CD, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Collective Creativity (2009), is receiving rave national reviews. In 2008, Davis conducted and premiered with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic his "Hope in Action" suite, to an audience of over 8,000, as part of Chicago’s tribute to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He has received past commissions from Chicago Sinfonietta, City of Chicago’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, Boeing Company, Nissan Infiniti, Lucent Technologies, College of DuPage and Art Institute of Chicago. In 2007, Davis composed “Concerto for Generation I,” a work commissioned by Nissan/Infiniti, inspired by the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan. “Concerto for Generation I” was part of the 2007 “Infiniti In Black” national advertising campaign which included a 2-page full-color ad of Davis and the G35 in Ebony, Vibe, Essence and Black Enterprise magazines as well as a very high-end online marketing campaign. Davis’ 2004 CD release entitled Blue Notes, was the follow-up to his critically acclaimed Priority, which earned an L.A. Times 4-star review, hit Top-50 "most played on public radio" Jazz CDs in 2002, and was named Top-10 best Jazz CDs of 2002 by the Chicago Tribune.
Orbert Davis’ compositions and arrangements have been performed worldwide by the Melbourne Symphony (with Kurt Elling), Poznan Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, Univ. of Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Fox Valley Orchestra. Currently, when he is not performing, composing, or teaching, you can hear Orbert Davis talk all things jazz - past, present, and future - as he hosts his weekly jazz radio show with special guests, “The Real Deal” airing on WDCB 90.9 FM and streaming live on wdcb.org.
Along with his business partner Mark Ingram, Davis owns and operates ORBARK PRODUCTIONS. Recording credits include projects for Atlantic, Capitol, CBS, Epic, MCA, the Warner Brothers record labels. Feature film credits include A League of Their Own and The Babe. Davis was jazz consultant for Academy Award winning director, Sam Mendes, on the DreamWorks Pictures feature film Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, where he also made a cameo appearance.
In 1998, Davis and Ingram founded “Jazz Alive,” (formerly known as “MusicAlive” and now the Arts Education outreach arm of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic) an interdisciplinary enrichment program that focuses on teaching life and academic skills through music. Currently running in 7 Chicago Public Schools, the program also creates and develops jazz bands at the elementary school level.
Davis has a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University and a Masters degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lisa and four children, Zoe, Sydney, Donovan and Benjamin.