Hello! We are VAN DAVIS, a rock-funk band from NYC. We’ve been playing together for 16 years and counting, and have performed at venues throughout New York and the East Coast. One of our career highlights so far was having Stevie Wonder join us onstage in performing “Superstition.” (Click here for full story/video)
We started as an instrumental trio playing a hybrid of rock and jazz – hence the name VAN DAVIS, which guitarist Jake Ezra Schwartz coined as an homage to Van Halen and Miles Davis. The band’s sound has since evolved to include more funk and groove-oriented material with vocals, but the name stuck!
When vocalist Abena Koomson joined VAN DAVIS, we began collaborating on funky rock-driven songs with compelling lyrics and a soulful delivery. We pride ourselves in putting on a fun, entertaining live show with top-notch musicianship, adventurous playing, and powerful chemistry.
First off, the phrase “blow the roof off the place” was made for singers like Koomson, whose power and emotion are a formidable force of nature. And the band is so much more, a team players with a sense of space and dynamics — and chops to spare.
What’s impressive about this record, is that it obliterates the cliché of a funky band. Instead of bright clean high voicings on the guitar (a la Motown), Schwartz goes for a huge, thick meaty sound, and some of the best, most musical guitar-playing heard in years.
Take for example “Deeply,” where he starts out with textbook-classic funk nine-chord sounds, then takes it up a notch for a Hendrix-like single note line in back of the chorus, then – just when you thought it was safe – serves up one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in years, a gut-wrenching yet chops-heavy solo that will bend your mind. Now, that’s not excluding a deadly drum track, and a sassy, sexy vocal from Koomson as well.
Other highlights include the slow-motion groove of “Chance,” a go-for-the-throat cover of “I Want A New Drug,” a dreamy, optimistic “Welcome” and the slinky, attitude-laden “Cookies.”
Just when you think being a great musician is no longer necessary in the music business, Van Davis shows how great players will always trump pro-tools and auto-tune.
Also available: our previous release Have You Seen This Band? (instrumental)
The Members of VAN DAVIS
Abena Koomson (lead vocals) is a performer, educator and writer. She is bandleader and composer for Abena Koomson's Blacksmith Orchestra (AKBO) and the lead vocalist for Afro-beat sensation Zongo Junction, in addition to Van Davis. After an eleven year teaching career, Abena originated the role of Fela Kuti's mother to rave reviews in the Off-Broadway production of Fela!, directed by Bill T. Jones. Abena went on to become a member of the Original Broadway company, where she also served as vocal captain. Abena holds a Masters in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. Abena lives in Harlem and currently serves as the middle school Ethics Chair at Fieldston, where she teaches Ethics to middle & upper school students.
Jake Ezra Schwartz (guitar, vocals) is the guitarist for The Book of Mormon on Broadway, the 2011 Tony Award and Grammy Award winning Best Musical. Jake has performed with Alex Skolnick, Dave Fiuczynski, Alan Menken, Jarrod Spector, Laura Bell Bundy, and "Papa" Denny Doherty. Additionally, he originated the guitar/mandolin chair on the 2009 Broadway show 9 to 5, working and recording with Dolly Parton. One of his lifelong dreams was to meet his ultimate guitar hero Eddie Van Halen, who after attending Mormon, graciously signed Jake's guitar, writing "Got crazy VH (Van Halen) style, Jake!!". Recently Jake was featured in the premiere issue of Unbuilt magazine (interview by Alex Skolnick) as well as Premier Guitar magazine.
Patrick Carmichael (drums) lives in Brooklyn NY, and makes a living as a professional drummer. His recent album ‘Sanctuary’ joins his catalogue of solo albums including the award-winning ‘Onyx Root.’ Patrick has worked with New York blues artist Michael Powers, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, and Woody Allen’s Dixieland Jazz Band. Broadway credits include Smokey Joe’s Cafe and The Lion King. Off-Broadway credits include The Big Apple Circus, The Blue Flower, and Shida. In addition to Van Davis, Patrick also performs with the South American Andean Music band Agua Clara and his own band, Flea Circus.
Jon Price (bass, vocals) moved to NYC in 2001 and has since shared the stage with such performers as Stevie Wonder, Sara Bareilles, Brendon Urie, Michael Manring, and The Undisputed Heavyweights. He has been featured on recordings with UGK/Outkast and Mike Stern and has performed on Off-Broadway productions Rooms and The Blue Flower. His passion for teaching is currently met as director of an ensemble at the Lighthouse School of Music in Manhattan and he performs with a gospel band at a church in Queens. With firm roots in Soul, Funk, and R&B, Price's continued fulfillment comes from his ability to appreciate and learn something from every musical scenario in which he participates. He is driven by live performances that allow intimate communication with the audience and fellow musicians.