Nathan Tate Davis was born in Kansas City, Kansas on February 15, 1937. He received a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. He served in the Army and was discharged in 1962. He lived in Paris and worked as a jazz saxophonist. He played regularly at the club Le Chat Qui Pï¿½che and became a prolific bandleader. He released three albums in 1965. He moved back to the United States in 1969 to become the founding director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked there for 44 years, retiring in 2013. He continued to record albums as a bandleader and as a composer, he wrote more than 200 jazz tunes, symphonies, and film scores. He wrote several books including Writings in Jazz and African American Music: A Philosophical Look at African American Music in Society written with Ursula Broschke-Davis. He received the 2013 BNY Mellon Living Legacy Award from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. He died from congestive heart failure on April 8, 2018 at the age of 81.