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Chris Snake Davis
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Chris Snake Davis [October 28th 2006]

Chris ‘Snake’ Davis is from the UK. A prolific saxophone player and singer of Soul/Jazz music and also pop. First of all, thank you for giving me your time to do this interview.

Tracey: Can you tell me where you spent your childhood years and does music run in your family?
Chris Snake Davis: I spent my childhood years in Wales. Music didn’t really run in my family but it certainly ran through the Welsh valleys.

Tracey: You have an honours degree in Philosophy and English and studied at the Leeds College of Music. How did you find the city of Leeds musically?
Chris Snake Davis: Not as happening as it is now. Now there are great venues, especially for jazz. At that time we created our own gigs, at Leeds Polytechnic, The Central Station pub and the Astoria Ballroom to name just three.


Tracey: I’d heard you did two saxophone solos on the soundtrack of a James Bond film. Which film was it and tell me how you were approached to do this?
Chris Snake Davis: The film was “Tomorrow Never Dies”. An orchestral contractor hired me - she would have been asked to find a soloist by the composer. I didn’t know I’d been hired to solo. When I arrived at George Martins Air Studios my heart sank as a 90-piece orchestra was already in full flight. I started gingerly weaving my way past the violins searching for my spot but the contractor rescued me, took me by the arm and led me to the smaller room where I was to solo.

Tracey: Would you say the industry you work in has changed for the better since you first started out?
Chris Snake Davis: No. Not so many opportunities for young players, the record industry is in a bad state and the TV culture of “we can make you famous in 2 weeks” hasn’t helped.

Tracey: At what age did you start singing and performing?
Chris Snake Davis: I was singing solos in church and school and competitions before the age of 10.

Tracey: You have played with people like James Brown, Ray Charles, Edwin Starr, The Three Degrees, The Real Thing, Chaka Khan and Smokey Robinson – who impressed you the most and why?
Chris Snake Davis: Well, of that list, James Brown and Smokey because they were among my favourite artists and it was such a thrill to meet them (briefly) but Edwin always impressed me greatly, a very hard working committed performer.

Tracey: Why the ‘Snake’ in your name? You don’t look scaly or venomous…. :)
Chris Snake Davis: I know, but it’s to do with the way I wiggle and writhe on stage and the way I slither round a melody, never playing it straight!

Tracey: Having the name Davis – do you know of/like the work of the US Jazz trumpeter Miles (Dewey) Davis?
Chris Snake Davis: Yes I like him a lot, love the classic stuff with Coltrane and admire the way he has moved through and with different developments in jazz and funk music. It also tickles me that my records are always racked next to his!

Tracey: Are you still the resident saxophonist for the ‘Tonight With Jonathon Ross’ TV show and do you enjoy doing it?
Chris Snake Davis: No, that was light years ago but still on my CV because it was such an exciting year, great band with Steve Naďve, Tim Renwick and Andy Gangadene, and we backed a host of great people - James Brown, Chaka, Smokey and many more! I just flew out to Tokyo on the same flight as Jonathon and we had a quick catch up in departures!

Tracey: Have you done any other TV work or have any planned?
Chris Snake Davis: Loads of one-off shows of course but nothing regular like that and nothing planned.

Tracey: I’d describe your music as soulful, jazzy. Is this how you would describe it?
Chris Snake Davis: That’ll do, I hate having to describe it because it’s so varied. A lot of “world” influence too, but as long as the word “soulful” is used I’m reasonably happy.

Tracey: Who is your biggest musical influence?
Chris Snake Davis: The Texas tenor sax player King Curtis.

Tracey: I’ve seen you play with Lisa Stansfield, M People and twice with Jim Diamond, who seemed a very shy guy too – hiding behind his shades. Do you still generally get the jitters before you perform?
Chris Snake Davis: Jitters no, not usually, but still always a rush of adrenaline and quivers in the tummy.

Tracey: You are touring Japan in Sept/Oct ’06 and are learning Japanese. How is it coming along?
Chris Snake Davis: Aha! Timing! We’ve just finished 2 weeks of rehearsal and production run throughs (where we do it with sound and lights in a big hall with everything but the audience.) and the first show is TONIGHT! I’m writing on the tour bus, rock and roll eh? I think it’ll go well but this 37-date tour is for a Japanese rock star. I know he loves me, but it’s a hard gig, quite restrictive, very directed, I don’t get much freedom!

Tracey: You play many instruments in your performances. Can you name all the ones you play and how many do you own?
Chris Snake Davis: Baritone tenor alto and soprano Saxes. Concert, alto and folk flutes. Shakuhachi (Japanese end-blown bamboo flute). Tin whistles. At home I have sopranino sax, guitars and keyboards and an electronic wind instrument. I have spares of everything and all together, I’m not quite sure how many instruments I own!

Tracey: Are you very protective over your instruments?
Chris Snake Davis: Well, yes, because they are personal and even the more modern instruments like my wonderful Yanagisawa saxes, although more replaceable than vintage instruments, still warm up and wear in to my way of playing. I specially hate them having to travel in aircraft baggage holds!

Tracey: Do you work with young musicians or hold master-classes?
Chris Snake Davis: Yes, a lot, including workshops master-classes and Summer Schools, all kinds of ages and abilities. We have a lot of fun. There is some educational stuff on my site and I’ll be putting more on.

Tracey: Do you work with young musicians or hold master-classes?
Chris Snake Davis: Yes, a lot, including workshops master-classes and Summer Schools, all kinds of ages and abilities. We have a lot of fun. There is some educational stuff on my site and I’ll be putting more on.

Tracey: You have made 3 CDs. What are they called and what is the format of the CDs?
Chris Snake Davis: They are called HYSTERIA, SNAKEBITES and ADDER LESSONS. Just CD format at the moment although should be on i-tunes soon. Available via my website.

Tracey: I’m sure I read many years ago you got your Doc. Martens for free – do they still afford you this pleasure and how did that come to be?
Chris Snake Davis: No not now. I think that was on an M People or Lisa Stansfield tour. Sometimes manufacturers try to tempt us to be seen wearing their stuff by giving it free!

Tracey: Do you have a website for people to check your tour dates and anything else you would like to say to us before I bid you farewell?
Chris Snake Davis:,
Just come to a gig sometime! Doing it live is what we enjoy best!

Tracey: On behalf of Just Soul, thank you for completing the interview. I look forward to seeing you play live again sometime in the near future and every success for the rest of the year.

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