Davenport, who has recorded two albums as a leader for the Telarc label, certainly qualifies. He's also become a regular on the competitive New Orleans jazz-club circuit, and he recently turned down a lucrative job on Harry Connick Jr.'s upcoming tour to keep his own group going in the Big Easy.
"I played on Harry's last recording," says Davenport during a recent phone interview from his New Orleans home. "And when Harry asked me to go on tour with him, it was a tough decision, because he was basically reuniting all the guys who had toured in his big band before. I think I was the only guy asked who turned it down. "But it's really rewarding for me to work a lot with my own band at this stage. So I felt I really had to do this instead."
Davenport is bringing a fine cast of musicians with him for his Friday- and Saturday-evening performances at the Bistro. Here's how he ran down the band's lineup:
"Eric Slaughter is on guitar, and he's from St. Louis," says Davenport. "He and I missed each other by a couple of years growing up. I convinced him to move down here from New York, and he's really been tearing it up. Troy Davis, who plays a lot with Monty Alexander, is on drums, and he's a great musician. And David Torkanowsky is on piano, and I think he's one of the best pianists in New Orleans. (Torkanowsky was the musical director for singer Dianne Reeves for many years and is also a member of the critically acclaimed group Astral Project.)
But the most interesting aspect of Davenport's band is the bass player -- or players. Neal Caine will play with Davenport both nights, but on Saturday, Chris Thomas and David Pulphus will make the bass spot something of a musical tag team as all three St. Louis native take turns with the band.