Popularizing the use of
brass instruments in the string-dominated world of country music, Danny Davis'
work with his Nashville Brass inspired Buck Owens to form the Bakersfield Brass
and also influenced the music of Ray Pennington and Merle Haggard. Born George
Nowlan in Dorchester, Massachusetts, he aspired to be a horn player while in
high school. In 1940, he joined jazz drummer Gene Krupa's band and played with
some of the greatest musicians of the jazz and swing era, including Bobby Byrne,
Bob Crosby, and Art Mooney. After leaving Krupa, he joined Vincent Lopez's band
in New York. He remained with Lopez for many years. Davis became a record
producer in 1958 for Joy and MGM, producing six number one singles for Connie
Francis. While on a trip to Nashville, Davis met Fred Rose and Chet Atkins;
Atkins invited Davis to become a production assistant in Nashville and in 1965,
Davis became an executive A&R producer (with Atkins) for several years.
Near the end of the decade, Davis approached Atkins with the idea of adding brass to country music. Atkins gave the go-ahead, and the Nashville Brass was born. Their first album, "The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play Nashville Sounds", came out in 1968 with little fanfare. The following year, they released "More Nashville Sounds", and people began to take notice. A new Grammy category, Best Country Instrumental Performance, was created to accommodate them, and the CMA voted them Instrumental Group or Band of the Year for five years in a row. Davis has also collaborated with other country stars like Hank Locklin. Lloyd Green can be heard on many Nashville Brass albums, his steel guitar often providing the link between Jazz and Country sounds.