A beloved Spokane musician and teacher, Quindrey “Drey” Davis stood out as a talented drummer as early as middle school.
Raised in Cheney, he started playing percussion by age 5 for local churches. Davis played professionally with dozens of regional bands and artists. Fellow musicians say his drumming talents stretched across all genres – jazz, rock, country, gospel, funk, metal and pop.
“He was just a natural like no kid I ever saw,” said Bill Foster, retired longtime Cheney Middle School band and orchestra teacher. “I taught band for 40 years. He was quite the talent and just the greatest kid, the easiest to work with.”
Two years ago, he auditioned and won his long-held goal to play in the Spokane Jazz Orchestra. He taught music, from private drum lessons and support for Cheney band kids to entering his third year as band director at Northwest Christian Schools.
He also was the department leader of percussion at the Bartell Music Academy.
“Drey just had this enthusiasm and joy in playing, and a really amazing talent that caused everyone around him to smile,” said Don Goodwin, his friend and Spokane Jazz Orchestra director.
Davis died Saturday at age 29, within days of being diagnosed with leukemia, said his mother-in-law, Angie Day.
He’s survived by his wife, Allyson, 5-year-old son Cairo and a daughter, Rhythm, who is due in December.
The couple, who met as students at Eastern Washington University, purchased a house a year ago in Spokane.
“He was always playing because he was so talented,” said Chris Grant, a Spokane Jazz Orchestra percussionist. “And then he had moved into that position at Northwest Christian, and he was so excited about another kiddo to be born in December.
“He was always thinking about the future, but he always lived in that moment with his determination and finding joy in his music and with his family and faith.”
On Oct. 10, after feeling ill for almost a year, he went to a doctor and first learned about the cancer, Day said. In just a few days, it progressed to brain bleeds. Day said her son-in-law was most concerned about his family and their financial support while he was in the hospital.
She started a GoFundMe that’s already past its goal and nearing $109,000 as of Tuesday.
Davis, skilled in both drum set and electronic composition, performed with a long list of artists. Among them is Spokane’s Allen Stone, who won the critical portion of NBC’s “American Song Contest” in 2022 and is touring now with Chris Stapleton’s “All American Road Show.”
“Spokane Jazz Orchestra was just one slice of what Drey did as far as being a gigging musician,” Goodwin said.
“He played with everyone around town. He had his hands in the jazz scene but also in the rock scene, played with people like Allen Stone, did lots of funk music and pop music, lots of cover band-type gigs, and also as a person of very strong faith, he played as a member of his church’s praise group.”
His performances weren’t about flashy solos. Davis even “rose above” in simple ways jamming with a group, said Goodwin, who first met the young musician when he was a student at Cheney Middle School and attended the EWU Jazz Dialogue Camp held in summers for middle and high school musicians. Goodwin also is EWU director of bands.
Davis went on to complete a music degree at EWU and turned to playing professionally.
He consistently showed energy and love of music, Goodwin said.
“But what’s most important about Drey is just his personality and his interpersonal relationships,” Goodwin added.
“He always had this attitude of humility and joy. He just loved people, and he loved his family.”
Davis also played with Alex Acuna, Snarky Puppy, Donnie McClurkin, Yvette C. Williams, Phil Doyle, Leon Atkinson, Michael Waldrop, Spokane Brass Quintet, Bob Curnow Big Band, Nu Jack City Band, Rachel Bade McMurphy and Brendan McMurphy.
He performed at the Reno (Nevada) Jazz Festival in 2017 and the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2019. Davis also placed first in the district finals for the Guitar Center Drum-Off, in 2011 and 2013, and was part of the “Ain’t Too Proud” Broadway Musical this year.
He also did performances as a classical percussionist in symphonic, chamber music and solo recitals.
Foster said Davis felt more like family after years of watching him grow up and expanding musically. Davis remained friends with Foster’s daughter, Caitlin, who is the same age, and with their other friend and fellow student, Lauren McKinley, a local musician.
Then, Foster played with Davis more recently in the Spokane Jazz Orchestra and the Bob Curnow Big Band.
“People have known about him since, well, his first year of jazz band in seventh grade,” said Foster, who instructed Davis in band all through his middle school years. “He was well-known by then at jazz festivals, and people were saying, ‘Who is this kid?’”
Grant was an EWU graduate student when he first met Davis, who was then in middle school.
Even at that time, Grant said he could tell that Davis was “just an amazing drummer.”
But Grant said in all the years watching him as a musician, and then as a colleague, Davis never became stagnant. He always worked on improving.
“What really hit me this weekend when he passed was that I just can’t think of anyone as determined as he was in his life,” Grant said. “I’m not speaking to his musical capabilities. He had this thing about whatever he did, he was determined to be great at it.”
Whenever they visited, Davis would bring up his wife and family.
“He was just so proud of his family.”
It was part of his determination, playing constant gigs to support his family.
“It’s a great loss to Spokane, to the musical community, to the education community,” Grant said.
His mother-in-law said Davis could reach students and helped them win competitions. Day is a special education teacher at Cheney High School, and she said Davis would help students during zero hour with arrangements. He was equally popular at Northwest Christian.
“Everyone wanted to play for Mr. Davis,” she said. “There was not a fiber in his human being that didn’t make anyone feel anything but wonderful.”
A service is scheduled Oct. 28 for an 11 a.m. viewing and noon funeral at Life Center Church, 1202 N. Government Way.