Kris Davis wins the 2020 JJA award for Composer & Pianist of the Year

This year’s Awards for instrumentalists advance a multi-year trend by the JJA’s voting members to recognize accomplished women among the multiple nominated finalists. Drummer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington (Musician of the Year), pianist-composer Kris Davis (Composer and Pianist of the Year), saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (Up & Coming Musician of the Year), drummer-composer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom (for Mid-Size Ensemble of the Year), baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian and harpist Brandee Younger (Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz), and several other women were voted Best of the Year for their achievements in 2019. For the first time, women won half the instrumentalists’ categories.

NPR Jazz Critics poll names Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons #1 Jazz album of 2019!

Kris Davis
Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic)

At a glance, an odd candidate for consensus: Kris Davis, an improviser-composer with the instinct of an alchemist, made Diatom Ribbons by drawing inspiration from oceanic microbiology, tectonic movement and piano precursors ranging from Messiaen to Monk to Cecil Taylor. What makes her experiment feel seamless is the deep cohesion of some elite company: a core trio with Val Jeanty on turntables and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, opening up to the earthy enlightenment of a pair of hardy tenor saxophonists (Tony Malaby, JD Allen) a couple of spark plug guitarists (Marc Ribot, Nels Cline), and a handful of others (like Esperanza Spalding, in two arresting vocal cameos). It easily could have felt like an Event album, but Davis and her wrecking crew produce something rarer: an album of volatile heat and fractured funk that mysteriously forms an alluring contour line. – Nate Chinen

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Kris Davis Joins Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice

A world-renowned jazz pianist and composer, Davis has been praised by The New York TimesJazzTimes, and DownBeat.

Acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Kris Davis will join the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice this fall. – Image by Mimi Chakarova


This fall, acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Kris Davis will join the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice as associate program director of creative development. She will assist in teaching composition and contemporary improvisation courses for the institute, and develop programs and events related to gender parity in jazz.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Davis has been based in New York City for the past 18 years. Fluid within multiple musical idioms, she has made an indelible mark on the New York creative music scene and in the global jazz community over the past decade. Davis began studying classical piano at age 6 before discovering her love of jazz in her teens through the music of Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. She studied jazz at the University of Toronto, where she developed a foundation in performing and composing traditional jazz music. After moving to New York, Davis began a lengthy and acclaimed recording and composition career, blending elements of jazz, free improvisation, and contemporary classical music.

Since 2003, she has recorded and performed with artists such as John Zorn, Bill Frisell ’77 ’17H, Tyshawn Sorey, Eric Revis, Julian Lage ’08, Ingrid Laubrock, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Terri Lyne Carrington, the institute’s founder and artistic director. Davis has appeared at Berklee to perform and speak several times, including at the institute’s opening festivities last fall and at the Gathering, a series on gender equity. Her performances have been praised by outlets such as The New York Times and JazzTimes, and DownBeat named her a Rising Star–Jazz Artist in 2018.

“I’m elated to welcome Kris Davis to the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice,” said Carrington. “Kris has made a tremendous impact on the music scene and truly embodies the spirit of jazz innovation—understanding its history while moving the music forward. I know she will make an important and lasting impression on her students and the Berklee community through her work and teachings.”