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Remembering Sa Davis

Sa Davis performs at the City Music Open House in December 2009. Photo (c) Phil Farnsworth.

The Percussion Department is starting the new school year without colleague Sa Davis, who passed away this summer at the early age of 56 (read the Berklee obituary). Here are some remembrances from his fellow percussion faculty, collected by Percussion Department chair John Ramsay. We welcome Sa’s other colleagues, former students, and friends to post their own tributes in the comments.

Sa was just a gentle spirit and a kind human that everybody loved. He was quite humble about all his accomplishments, most notably his five-year tenure as a member of Billy Cobham’s group (see video below). He is greatly missed and loved by all of us here.
—John Ramsay

Very sad… I’ve known Sa since I was a kid and am still in shock. Wishing him eternal peace and may we all live each day like it’s the last, with wisdom, compassion, respect and love.
—Terri Lyne Carrington

What terrible news! I feel lucky to have known him. Sa personified kindness and love. I know his students learned a lot about being musicians; I hope they learned a little about being human beings. Peace, Sa… you will be missed.
—Bob Tamagni

Rest in peace, Sa Davis!
I pray for your family.
I thank God for the musical gift you gave to the world and the inspiration you gave me over the years.
—Sean Skeete, assistant chair, Ensemble Dept.

GONE FAR TOO SOON. I will never forget the exhilaration and pride in listening to Sa Davis perform with Billy Cobham and others in his life. I am totally shocked and saddened.
—Kenwood Dennard

I am grateful for all that Sa gave to all of us, especially our students. I always observed smiles and delight at every class he was teaching. It always lifted me up, and it makes my heart so heavy that he is gone from us. Peace and prayers to you, Sa.
—Richard Flanagan

So sad.
—Ernesto Diaz

—Dave Weigert, ensembles faculty

This is very sad news. We will miss that smile of his that has brightened our days. May he rest in peace and God bless his family.
—Tony Smith

I’ve known Sa from the old days when we were all hanging out and playing. Sa was the sweetest person, always positive, and would greet you with warmth and a big smile. If we all had some Sa in us this world would be full of love and peace. Thank you Sa for the great example you set for us all. He was a REAL HUMAN BEING. I am sure he is still setting examples and spreading his spirit.
—Robert Kaufman

Sa has been my friend for 40 years. I really feel bad that I had not seen or shared more time with this humble, kind, and soulful musician. Yes, gone way too soon.
—Jamey Haddad

Our prayers go out to his family and his absence felt deeply in the department. He will be missed… GONE TOO SOON.
—Ralph Peterson Jr.

We never know what tomorrow holds. This is truly shocking news. Sa’s smile, warm presence and musical energy will be missed.
—Yoron Israel

This is SAD news—
Never say tomorrow or next semester… let’s do it when we can. Peace to ALL, and Sa rest in peace and rhythm.
I have the VHS tapes back home of this incredible three days live at a popular TV show in Italy. This is a great one I just found on YouTube from that session. Yoron, did you say musical energy? YES!
—Sergio Bellotti

Post your own memories of Sa in the comments.


Clinic by Robert Glasper


Kurt Rosenwinkel Concert (En español)


  1. Computo

    Sa was a supreme teacher. Not only a great person, he really cared and treated his students like people, not musicians-to-be. He always had so much energy and interesting things to say and teach. What a genuine and caring individual! A unique man, a true teacher and innovator. So glad to have had the opportunity to work and hang with him…

  2. Hebert Labbate

  3. I my time at Berklee, we always hang out and talk about music and percussion. He was a great teacher, very kind and a good person. He will be missed.

  4. Sa was my percussionist since the year of 1976. I first came to Boston and in ’74 to attend Berklee. shortly thereafter I began to check out the music scene came across Sa Davis working with Stanton Davis and Ghetto Mysticism. He knocked me out with his sound.

    We spoke shortly after that and kept running into each other. I had formed my band in 1976 and really wanted to add a percussionist and asked Sa to be a part of it. He was ready to start rehearsing the next day. Sa remained my first call on my gigs because I never had to worry about the music. He was the only percussionist I had ever met who asked for a lead sheet or chart of the songs.

    He always knew where he was in the music and could establish a “vibe” that wasn’t written but always fit and grooved. A master musician.

    These are some of the things I will miss about Sa. Most of all I will miss our relationship as brothers. We laughed until we cried sometimes. Ate Middle Eastern food, and just enjoyed listening to and discussing the nuances of all types of music.

    He was a master composer,an awe inspiring teacher, an amazing spirit, and my dear friend. I miss him tremendously.I’m certain he is transforming heaven’s cover with his rhythms of life.
    Peace to you my brother SA.

  5. I love Sa Davis! Thank you..

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