posted by Robert J. Carmack #blues2jazzguy
Miles Dewey Davis jazz musician,composer, and fashion setting artist turned 90 years old today. if he was still alive today ,what Miles would we see or hear from ?What would he think of the music scene, not necessarily jazz, but the whole Pop culture. Certainly, in my opinion, he would be shocked and appalled at the really low-quality of so-called talent being “worshipped and awarded all the benefits.
Miles was one of my favorite jazz artists and more importantly, He was an inspiration to me as a young budding saxophonist in the early and mid -1960s. Fortunate for me, I got an opportunity to check out Miles for myself “Live” at the Pacific Jazz Festival held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in fall of 1966. I was much too young to have witnessed his first great quintet consisting of Red Garland,Paul Chambers,Philly Joe Jones, John Coltrane almost a decade before. I was quite impressed as a 11th grade student to actually attend a festival with such a stellar lineup for that particular night the Davis Quintet were headlining. In addition to Davis performing was The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Brazilian guitarist, Bola Sete. The Davis group had the highly sought-after Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter,Ron Carter and the very young Tony Williams with him. After that experience, I bought every album I could on the sidemen and Davis, as I was surely “hooked”. By the end of the decade,circa 1968 and 1969, Miles was changing up his whole approach from full acoustical jazz with further explorations of modes. But, he seemed more interested in exploring the hip, “Electric sounds” of Pop/Rock groups of the day .
I never saw Miles again Live until one night at Shelly’s Manne Hole in 1971, with a completely revamped band consisting of Keith Jarrett electric keyboards and Jack De’Johnette on drums ,both recent alums from the Charles Lloyd group.also Michael Henderson electric bass and Gary Bartz on saxes. At this time Miles was promoting his new all-electric band and album “Jack Johnson” which was a cornucopia of electric keyboards, organs ,electric bass with sound enhancing devices, including Miles Davis himself trying to get through the evening without shocking himself to death with this new “Electric Trumpet equipped with wah-wah pedal and an installed mic pickup near the neck and mouthpiece. Whenever Miles would get into a groove, the trumpet would shock him because of the buildup of “Spittle” and the metallic aspects of the trumpet. He practically spent the entire evening coating his lips with a special oil, and jumping in pain whenever it would shock him. I was seated right in front of Miles less than five feet away. I enjoyed the new band overall, but it was annoying watching Miles uncomfortably play his trumpet. I felt like it was a lot to sacrifice just to produce a sound, but this was the determination and resolve of a great musician and pioneer to carry on until the ability to play the trumpet was not impeded by the amount of electricity flowing through the horn. Better technology came into play by the 80s, including the horn being fitted with a special mic attached with a long cord . I miss having Miles around just as a sort of Jazz Guru or true grit genre advocate. Happy Birthday Dewey!! You were the Best!