The Kennedy Center

Davey Yarborough



Biography

Davey Yarborough, saxophonist, recording artist, and educator, represents a new generation of jazz innovators. While earning his bachelor and master’s degrees in education and performance, he studied flute with the virtuosic Frank Wess and saxophone with the legendary Sonny Stitt. As a performer, bandleader, composer and arranger, he worked with such jazz figures as Sir Roland Hanna, Keter Betts, Billy Eckstine, Buck Hill, Shirley Horn, Lena Horne, and Joe Williams. Mr. Yarborough has also collaborated with Wynton Marsalis, performing on Marsalis’ Making the Music series on National Public Radio (NPR). He joined Wycliffe Gordon, Herlin Riley, Bill Easley, and Reginald Veal to record Gordon’s new arrangement of the opening theme for NPR’s All Things Considered.
From 1988 to 1991, Mr. Yarborough's distinctive sax sound was part of the memorable background music for the NBC sitcom, The Cosby Show. His composing and arranging talents are heard on the musical soundtrack for the movie Uptown Angel. In addition to performing at the East Coast, San Remo, Italy, and Montreux jazz festivals, Mr. Yarborough has recorded several albums including: Collaboration with pianist Hilton Felton, It’s Time for Love, Covington, Seals and Yarborough, Beautiful Friendship, and Lovetones. He appears as a soloist on many recordings, including Ronnie Wells’ Live at Montpelier and harpist Jeff Majors’ New Age Soul and Sacred. Mr. Yarborough also collaborated with the legendary Sir Roland Hanna in a compilation of new compositions for JazzMont Records, as well as recordings of Duke Ellington’s music that coincided with Ellington’s 100th birthday in April 1999, which led to the album Royal Essence, An Evening of Ellington.
As an educator, Mr. Yarborough returned to his alma mater, the University of the District of Colombia, as music instructor and director of the Jazz Stage Band. In 1986, he was asked to create the jazz orchestra at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, and built what is now an internationally recognized jazz studies program and jazz orchestra - The New Washingtonians. It is at Ellington that Mr. Yarborough, as Dean of Instrumental Music, continues to nurture and mentor aspiring jazz performers, as ABC featured on 20/20 with Connie Chung. He is also artistic director and founder of The Washington Jazz Arts Institute. Mr. Yarborough conceived and presented the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Evenings for Young Professionals lecture series, which led to Journey Into Jazz, a format in which he covers the history of jazz through a combined lecture and performance. Awards include the 1998 Mayor’s Arts Award, a 2000 Special Achievement Wammie, and the 2000 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award from the Greater Washington Urban League. In 2001, he was honored with the D.C. Emancipation Day Image Award, and in 2004, the Society, Inc. of D.C. honored Yarborough’s dedication to the education of young people. Yarborough last appeared on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on May 31, 2005 with the Davey Yarborough Sextet.From 1988 to 1991, Mr. Yarborough's distinctive sax sound was part of the memorable background music for the NBC sitcom, The Cosby Show. His composing and arranging talents are heard on the musical soundtrack for the movie Uptown Angel. In addition to performing at the East Coast, San Remo, Italy, and Montreux jazz festivals, Mr. Yarborough has recorded several albums including: Collaboration with pianist Hilton Felton, It’s Time for Love, Covington, Seals and Yarborough, Beautiful Friendship, and Lovetones. He appears as a soloist on many recordings, including Ronnie Wells’ Live at Montpelier and harpist Jeff Majors’ New Age Soul and Sacred. Mr. Yarborough also collaborated with the legendary Sir Roland Hanna in a compilation of new compositions for JazzMont Records, as well as recordings of Duke Ellington’s music that coincided with Ellington’s 100th birthday in April 1999, which led to the album Royal Essence, An Evening of Ellington.
As an educator, Mr. Yarborough returned to his alma mater, the University of the District of Colombia, as music instructor and director of the Jazz Stage Band. In 1986, he was asked to create the jazz orchestra at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, and built what is now an internationally recognized jazz studies program and jazz orchestra - The New Washingtonians. It is at Ellington that Mr. Yarborough, as Dean of Instrumental Music, continues to nurture and mentor aspiring jazz performers, as ABC featured on 20/20 with Connie Chung. He is also artistic director and founder of The Washington Jazz Arts Institute. Mr. Yarborough conceived and presented the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Evenings for Young Professionals lecture series, which led to Journey Into Jazz, a format in which he covers the history of jazz through a combined lecture and performance. Awards include the 1998 Mayor’s Arts Award, a 2000 Special Achievement Wammie, and the 2000 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award from the Greater Washington Urban League. In 2001, he was honored with the D.C. Emancipation Day Image Award, and in 2004, the Society, Inc. of D.C. honored Yarborough’s dedication to the education of young people. Yarborough last appeared on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on May 31, 2005 with the Davey Yarborough Sextet.
Photo of Davey Yarborough and Esther Williams