New Orleans is keeping a secret from jazz fans. If you head down to the Ritz-Carlton’s French Quarter Bar during Thursday through Saturday nights, you’ll get a chance to hear the smooth sounds of trumpeter/vocalist Jeremy Davenport
. Named by People Magazine as one of the hottest young bachelor’s, Davenport combines old-school charm with a wealth of talent. He’s also been featured in Cosmo Girl, GQ, Travel and Leisure, New Orleans
Although the thirty-three-year-old musician hails from St. Louis, he is proud to call New Orleans home. "I just feel like this is one of the last music towns. It’s allowed me at this point in my career not to travel. It allows me to play the type of music I want to play and make money doing it," said Davenport.
How Davenport landed in New Orleans is a story all in itself. "I was living in New York and started to sit in a lot with Harry Connick, Jr.," shared Davenport. "I was studying classical music at [the] Manhattan School of Music and started realizing this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Harry Connick convinced me to take lessons from Ellis Marsalis." Marsalis was living in New Orleans at the time and Davenport made the move to study.
Making the change from studying classical to jazz was easy for Davenport. "I always played jazz growing up. I always wanted to be a great trumpet player. The classical method gave me the fundamentals. Jazz is like a language. There are a lot of different dialects. Jazz is more [a] more personalized and unique expression . . . In classical music, you are interpreting music. In jazz, there is a point where you play the tune, but after that it becomes your own. Music and art is a lot like food. You have different styles of cooking and flavors."
After briefly studying with Marsalis, Davenport would be hired to play with Connicks’s band. Davenport would tour with Connick for four years before returning to the city he loves. "So much of the town has always been about eating, drinking and having a good time . . . and that includes music," declared Davenport. Adding, "I have a great life in New Orleans." Living in New Orleans would also prove to be a great career move for Davenport.
"I was playing at the premier jazz club in New Orleans, Snug Harbor. Two ladies came [up] and asked me to sign a CD [and] asked me if I do weddings. [They] had me make out the CD to Alden and Emeril." Davenport quickly realized that "Emeril" was the famed chef, Emeril Lagasse, and quickly agreed to play the wedding. "We’ve been really close since then . . . He’s a very gracious, great guy. He has been very kind to me," Davenport said.
Emeril would later invite Davenport to join him on a short-lived sitcom. Later, Davenport would begin making regular guest appearances on Food Network’s "Emeril Live" television series. Davenport shared that his favorite show so far has been "Emeril Salutes New York," which honored the firefighters and rescue workers from 9-11. "It was humbling to think about what those people have been through. To be a part of a tribute to them was an honor," Davenport stated.
On any typically night, you’ll hear Davenport play a combination of the "great American songbook" and material of his own. In his last album, Maybe in a Dream
, Davenport croons with style and grace. Diana Krall joins Davenport for a romantic duet in "Let’s Leave." The CD possesses a swinging vibe that is reminiscent of the style of Harry Connick, Jr. or Frank Sinatra. However, featuring Davenport on trumpet and vocals adds a unique flavor to the arrangements.
Davenport admits he is a fan of romance and considers himself an old-fashioned guy. "I like the idea of falling in love with someone and being happy. I’ve always been a dreamer." That idealism shows through in his music. Davenport sees himself as "taking people on an adventure" when he entertains. Stating, "I want to touch people and I want to share with them music they don’t listen to at home."
The world needs dreamers like Davenport. In our current climate of fast food, instant messaging and war . . . a little escape can be a good thing. Cheryl Hughey is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to newsprint, trades and Internet jazz publications. Contact: