Mike Greensill, piano & Ruth Davies, bass
“Greensill is an accompanist in the great tradition of Jimmy Rowles and Ellis Larkins. It’s worth twice the price of admission just to hear him!” Terry Teachout, NY Daily News
Every year, pianist Mike Greensill is joined by a changing roster of friends in a Labor Day weekend performance at Old First Concerts. This year, Greensill is joined by Ruth Davies on bass in a program of songs composed by jazz musicians: from Erroll Garner’s Misty to George Shearing’s Lullaby of Birdland, and of course many Duke Ellington swingers and ballads plus the odd Mike Greensill composition.
“A wonderful, lyrical jazz pianist.” Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle
After graduating in 1972 from Leeds College of Leeds College of Music in England, Mike Greensill toured Europe and the Far East and lived in Hong Kong for 4 years before finally settling into his adopted home, San Francisco, in 1977. Well known in his role as musical director to acclaimed vocalist Wesla Whitfield, with whom he has recorded twenty albums. Mike can also be caught playing jazz and singing in many a San Francisco saloon and every Wednesday at Silo’s in Napa.
As an arranger Mike, in addition to his work with Wesla, has had the opportunity to write for big bands and symphony orchestras including the Boston Pops and the San Francisco Symphony. Mike has also had the pleasure of accompanying such diverse talents as Rita Moreno, Margaret Whiting, Broadway stars Lillias White and Franc D’Ambrosio and jazz singers Madeline Eastman, Ann Hampton Callaway and Denise Perrier.
Mike’s CD, The Mike Greensill Trio “Live at the Plush Room”, is available on-line at CD Baby and Amazon.com. His writing and arranging for the Kronos Quartet can be found on Wesla Whitfield’s CD “September Songs” on HighNote Records. Wesla’s CD “Livin’ On Love” which is also on HighNote records, features Mike’s arrangements for The Klingel Horns, Gary Foster’s reeds and rhythm section. The Klingel Horns are a french horn quartet lead by SF Opera’s principle Horn Bill Klingelhoffer. To hear some of Mike’s arranging and read his scores go to his web site www.mikegreensill.com
Wesla’s and Mike’s last CD “A Message From The Man In The Moon” – on their own label Pismo Productions – features Mike playing solo piano in a collection of duets with his late wife on vocals. Mike is also the author of “Playing For Singers” – a how-to book on the art of the accompaniment for the jazz and cabaret pianist published by Sher Music. Since 2008 he’s delighted in exploring the taste delights of his new adopted home, St Helena in Napa Valley’s “wine country” and during the lock-down he has a discovered a new career, performing 3 days a week on Facebook live.
Photos on the Steinway grand in Ruth Davies’ living room reflect her musical career. Several pictures get one’s attention. Her mother, a music teacher, inspired Ruth to earn a music Bachelor of Arts degree. Mom poses with Dad in front of a venerable Harley Davidson motorbike. There’s a group of young musicians glowing during a workshop. Ruth embracing Toots Thielemans in a Baku caravansary. Ruth playing at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Ruth hamming it up with singer Jackie Ryan and composer Amina Figarova. Some photos include celebrities or famous musicians. Others simply grab one’s interest. What a life Ruth has had!
Ruth has performed with such jazz and blues greats as Keb’ Mo’, Charles Brown, Clark Terry, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Jay McShann, Van Morrison, Maria Muldaur, Junior Mance, Barbara Morrison, Etta Jones, Terry Gibbs, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Little Jimmy Scott. Her discography (including several Platinum and Grammy-winning CDs) covers various jazz and blues styles as well as movie soundtracks. She has recorded with Charles Brown, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, Van Morrison, Clark Terry, Vassar Clements, Toots Thielemans, Ernie Watts, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Jackie Ryan, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others.
She toured the world for ten years with the late Charles Brown, performing at major jazz festivals and concerts and on radio and television broadcasts worldwide. Ruth continues to spend considerable time abroad. She has recorded and performed internationally with Maria Muldaur, Denise Jannah, Dmitri Matheny and European pianist/composer Amina Figarova. Lately she has “returned to the roots” and travels with Elvin Bishop’s band.
Ruth believes in teaching and in bringing music to the public schools. She has been on the faculty at the Stanford Jazz Workshop for 17 years and has had a very successful Ruth Davies Blues Night series at the Stanford Jazz Festival. The San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program and the Just Say Jazz project deliver music education to the classroom. By any conservative estimate, Ruth has presented music programs to over two thousand school groups. That’s a serious commitment.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent,” said Victor Hugo. Perhaps that is the key to Ruth’s musical life.