Kris Davis, a 2021 Doris Duke Artist in the jazz category, is a critically acclaimed pianist and composer who was described by The New York Times as a beacon for “deciding where to hear jazz on a given night.”
Since 2003, Davis has released 23 recordings as a leader or co-leader and has collaborated with previous fellow Doris Duke Artists such as Terri Lyne Carrington and Craig Taborn along with other celebrated musicians. Davis began studying classical piano at age six, and in her early teens, she discovered her love of jazz through the music of Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, leading her to study jazz at the University of Toronto. She then completed a master’s degree in classical composition from the City College of New York a few years later.
In 2019, her album “Diatom Ribbons” was named jazz album of the year by both the New York Times and the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. She was also named 2020 Pianist of the Year, 2017 Rising Star Pianist and 2018 Rising Star Artist by DownBeat, and 2020 Pianist and Composer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. Her 2016 release, “Duopoly,” was listed as one of the best albums of the year by Jazz Times.
In 2016, Davis launched Pyroclastic Records to support artists whose expression expands beyond the commercial sphere. She subsequently formed a nonprofit organization to support the label’s work, which has been steadily growing, releasing five to six albums per year. In addition, Davis is the associate program director of creative development at the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.
Davis was a 2015 recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award, and she has also received multiple commissions for composing new works from The Shifting Foundation, The Jazz Gallery and the Canada Council for the Arts.