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Jeremy Davenport: Home again to play and at home with writing his own songs

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 22, 2011 - When University City native Jeremy Davenport made his Thanksgiving weekend debut at Jazz at the Bistro back in 1999, it likely never crossed his mind that in 2011, he'd be continuing what has become an annual holiday tradition for 13 years at the city's premiere jazz club.

After all, back in 1999, trumpeter/vocalist/songwriter Davenport already had two recordings out on the internationally known Telarc label: his self-titled 1996 debut and the 1998 release, "Maybe In a Dream."

With the release of "We'll Dance 'Til Dawn" on Basin Street in 2009, Davenport seemed to have regained his balance as a performer and a songwriter. Five of the 12 songs on the CD were written by Davenport, and reviews were positive.

At the age of 41, with packed crowds every weekend at the Ritz-Carlton and another new recording planned for next year, Davenport seems poised for a new phase in his musical career - both in New Orleans as well as on the international scene.

In the Big Easy, he's become a familiar face on TV spots for the NBA basketball team, the Hornets, as well as for spots promoting the Fairgrounds horseracing track.

"90 percent of the people who come to the club to see me aren't tourists - they're locals," he says. "So that makes me feel like I've really connected. And I just got back from eight days of concerts in Brazil as well," adds Davenport. "It was such a positive tour it looks like I'll be going back again soon - and maybe playing in several other South American countries as well."

As far as his performances this weekend at Jazz at the Bistro, Davenport is relishing the opportunity to reconnect once again with a couple of his best musical friends from University City - pianist Peter Martin and bassist Chris Thomas.

"Peter, Chris and I all grew up playing music together in U. City," explains Davenport. "And we played with other guys like Todd Williams and David Berger and Mark Peterson as well - and we all went on to become musicians."

Like Davenport, Martin relocated to New Orleans, living there and raising a family until Hurricane Katrina forced him to move. Martin decided to move his family permanently back to University City, and Davenport also came back for several months to perform regularly at Busch's Grove.

"It was good to have a place to go," he recalls. "But I always wanted to go back to New Orleans, so once the Ritz-Carlton reopened, I headed back. But it's always great to come back for Thanksgiving with my family, and to play the Bistro. And with the combination of Peter and Chris - plus my regular drummer from New Orleans, Troy Davis, and Aaron Fletcher on alto sax to round things out, this is definitely going to be fun!"

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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