Richard Davis (born April 15, 1930) is an American double bass player who has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1977. Originally from Chicago, he first became known in that city before establishing himself in New York City for twenty-three years. He teaches bass, jazz history, and improvisation.
In the course of his career he has worked in both the classical field and as a jazz bassist all over the world, and has recorded extensively both as a leader and sideman. He has performed with many well-known figures in music such as Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Earl Hines, Dexter Gordon, J. J. Johnson, Van Morrison, Don Shirley, Suezenne Fordham, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan and Kai Winding: from the classical world with Igor Stravinsky (who reportedly admired his work) and Leonard Bernstein. Davis was the second African American to perform on his instrument with a professional symphony orchestra in the United States.
Davis is one of the most widely recorded bassists of all time. Among his most famous contributions to the albums of others are Dolphy's 1964 Blue Note LP Out to Lunch!, Hill's Point of Departure, and Van Morrison's legendary classic Astral Weeks.