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Thomas Maxwell Davis, Jr. (January 14, 1916 – September 18, 1970),[1] known as Maxwell Davis, was an American R&B saxophonist, arranger and record producer.

Maxwell Davis
Birth nameThomas Maxwell Davis, Jr.
Born(1916-01-14)January 14, 1916
Independence, Kansas, United States
DiedSeptember 18, 1970(1970-09-18) (aged 54)
Los Angeles, California, United States
GenresSwing, Jazz, R&B
Occupation(s)Saxophonist, arranger, record producer
Years active1937–1970



Davis was born in Independence, Kansas, United States. In 1937, he moved to Los Angeles, California, playing saxophone in the Fletcher Henderson orchestra. After some years playing swing and jazz, he became more involved in the West Coast R&B scene in the mid-1940s, becoming a regular session player and arranger for the fast-growing independent record labels such as Aladdin.[2] He also recorded with the Jay McShann band, featuring the blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. By 1952, Davis had played on numerous R&B hits by Percy Mayfield, Peppermint Harris, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, and others.[3][4] He also arranged and played on Little Willie Littlefield's 1952 "K. C. Lovin'" for Federal Records.

In 1955, he joined Modern Records (and subsidiaries RPM, Crown and Kent) as musical director, bringing in most of the artists on Modern and Aladdin and producing most of their records.[5] Although his success rate started to diminish thereafter,[2] he became regarded as an elder statesman and as "the father of West Coast R&B".

"Maxwell Davis is an unsung hero of early rhythm and blues," noted the songwriter and producer Mike Stoller. "He produced, in effect, all of the record sessions for Aladdin records, Modern records, all the local independent rhythm and blues companies in the early 1950s, late 1940s in Los Angeles."[6]

His final recording activity was in 1969, as the producer of the soul singer Z. Z. Hill.[3][5]

Davis died from a heart attack, in Los Angeles, California, in September 1970.[1][7]


As sidemanEdit

With B.B. King


  1. ^ a b Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger Publishers. p. 353. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ a b Bill Dahl. "Maxwell Davis | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  3. ^ a b "Maxwell Davis - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Maxwell Davis Biography". Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b D'Souza, Ajay. "Maxwell Davis «  Big Road Blues". Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Boogiewoody (17 October 2009). "Be Bop Wino: Maxwell Davis And His Tenor Sax". Retrieved 28 November 2018.