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‘Jack Johnson,’ 1970 documentary about the first black heavyweight champion, scored by Miles Davis
08.18.2017
09:02 am
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Even people who don’t like Miles Davis’ electric period (!) recognize the greatness of Jack Johnson, one of John McLaughlin’s finest moments, and a record I’d heard dozens of times before I realized it was the score to a movie. Long before
Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness, there was this 1970 documentary by promoter Bill Cayton and fight film collector Jimmy Jacobs.

Jack Johnson was the first black boxer to win the world heavyweight championship. The phrase “great white hope” originates from the terror he struck into the hearts of pale Americans, both by winning the title and enjoying himself in public. His success did not go unpunished. Busted under the Mann Act and sentenced to a year and a day, Johnson skipped bail and fled the country. (In one memorable scene in Jack Johnson, the champ meets Rasputin.)
 

 
In his autobiography, Davis writes that he was boxing in the spring of 1970, when he wrote the soundtrack:

The music was originally meant for Buddy Miles, the drummer, and he didn’t show up to pick it up. When I wrote these tunes I was going up to Gleason’s Gym to train with Bobby McQuillen, who was now calling himself Robert Allah (he had become a Muslim). Anyway, I had that boxer’s movement in mind, that shuffling movement boxers use. They’re almost like dance steps, or like the sound of a train. In fact, it did remind me of being on a train doing eighty miles an hour, how you always hear the same rhythm because of the speed of the wheels touching the tracks, the plop-plop, plop-plop, plop-plop sound of the wheels passing over those splits in the track. That train image was in my head when I thought about a great boxer like Joe Louis or Jack Johnson. When you think of a big heavyweight coming at you it’s like a train.

Then the question in my mind after I got to this was, well, is the music black enough, does it have a black rhythm, can you make the rhythm of the train a black thing, would Jack Johnson dance to that? Because Jack Johnson liked to party, liked to have a good time and dance. One of the tunes on there, called “Yesternow” was named by James Finney, who was my hairdresser—and Jimi Hendrix’s, too. Anyway, the music fit perfectly with that movie. But when the album came out, they buried it. No promotions. I think one of the reasons was because it was music you could dance to. And it had a lot of stuff white rock musicians were playing, so I think they didn’t want a black jazz musician doing that kind of music. Plus, the critics didn’t know what to do with it. So Columbia didn’t promote it.

Watch ‘Jack Johnson’ after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.18.2017
09:02 am
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Honda scooter ads featuring DEVO, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Grace Jones, and Adam Ant


 
In the mid-1980s Honda had a series of quite dauntingly cool musicians hawking their scooters. They had particularly playful, sexy commercial in which Adam Ant and Grace Jones flirt with each other and then presumably fuck because they are so preposterously vital and attractive. Others featured DEVO, Berlin, Lou Reed, and Miles fucking Davis.

The Adam Ant/Grace Jones ad was “racy” enough that there was an edited version. In the full version Jones bites Ant’s ear, an act that doesn’t seem especially interesting. In any case, there was second version that trimmed the ear bite. The video below features both versions.

Were the commercials successful? I don’t know, Honda is still in business so probably, yeah. Do you know anyone who owns a Honda scooter? Hmmmmmm.
 

 
References to Reed‘s Honda commercial are inevitably rather amusing. Mick Wall in his book Lou Reed: The Life writes:
 

New Sensations was so listenable that ... it attracted the attention of an advertising agency executive, Jim Riswold, then chief copywriter for the Madison Avenue [actually Portland] giants Wieden & Kennedy. ... So he approached Lou Reed to help make an ad for Honda scooters.

At the time, Riswold recalled, “advertisers didn’t put people in commercials who had a long history of drug addiction, and of course [Lou Reed] was a man who at one time in his life was married to a man, and that man was a transvestite, so I guess you could say he wasn’t your typical spokesman. But if you looked at who we were trying to sell scooters to, it was natural. Actually, when you look back at that commercial it seems pretty damn tame today.”

Actually, at the time it just seemed plain hilarious. Lou Reed in a TV commercial? Selling scooters?

 
As Wall points out later, it was doubly weird because in the title track of New Sensations, Reed rhapsodized about a competing vehicle, the Kawasaki GPx750 Turbo motorcycle, singing that “the engine felt good between my thighs.”

Similarly, here’s Nick Kent, in the anthology Miles on Miles: Interviews and Encounters with Miles Davis:
 

America’s TV heartland has already witnessed this curious image of a man, a skinny figure with gleaming skin and what remains of his hair curling all over his shoulders: his hands grip (what else?) a trumpet, his lithe form is slouched against a small Japanese scooter, his eyes stare out at the viewer with imperious disdain. Then the voice, emanating from that shredded, node-less killing-floor of a larynx, mutters, “I ain’t here to talk about this thing, I’m here to ride it.”

 
Watch the Honda scooter commercials after the jump….....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.22.2017
10:46 am
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Legendary ‘lost’ Betty Davis recording sessions from 1969 (with Miles Davis) have been found!
06.29.2016
02:15 pm
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Nope, not Bette Davis, an ass-kicking woman in her own right. This is about Betty Davis, born Betty Mabry, who married and divorced none other than Miles Davis in 1968/69, during which time she introduced the trumpet master to the music of Hendrix and Sly Stone; in his memoir Miles credited Betty with sparking the direction his music would take in the 1970s. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Miles’ legendary 1970 album Bitches Brew is unimaginable without the contributions of Betty Davis.

Betty Davis released three incredibly vital funk albums in the mid-1970s: Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different, and Nasty Gal—all three albums have been rescued from unjust obscurity by Light in the Attic Records. In 2009 Light in the Attic also put out Is It Love or Desire, a full album Betty Davis recorded in 1976 that had never been released.

Now Light in the Attic is back with more Betty Davis treasures—the centerpiece being previously unreleased music from sessions at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios on May 14 and 20, 1969, sessions at which Miles Davis and Teo Macero served as the producers. The impressive lineup of musicians who participated included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, and Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. During the session the musicians covered Cream and Creedence Clearwater Revival and recorded originals by Betty. However, the songs have never been released—until now.
 

 
Remastered from the original analog master tapes, the album—released this week—is called Betty Davis: The Columbia Years 1968-1969. True to its title, the album also includes a Los Angeles session from 1968 that featured the great Hugh Masekela and members of the Crusaders.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.29.2016
02:15 pm
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For some reason, Miles Davis was super into Scritti Politti
01.12.2016
03:17 pm
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A few months ago a friend’s dad, while clearing out his attic, came upon three capacious boxes of LPs he wanted to get rid of; many of the albums had been purchased by his kids in the mid-1980s, with the rest representing the his own generation’s dollar-bin oompah, lounge, or folk (The Village Stompers?) and the like. I ended up buying the lot with another guy for forty bucks—an insanely great deal even if there was a ton of dross in the mix. In addition to low-rated fare like Jermaine Jackson’s Let Me Tickle Your Fancy and Apollonia 6‘s only full-length, I ended up with albums by Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins, Donovan, Adam and the Ants, Big Daddy Kane, Duran Duran, Johnny Cash, and the Smithereens. Pretty good!

In among this haul was Scritti Politti’s Cupid & Psyche 85, featuring a band I had scarcely thought about since the days when they were still making it onto the charts. The quality is noticeably high if also noticeably far more MOR than the cuts that had made them so distinctive in the period before 1985.

The main figure of Scritti Politti was named Green Gartside, a six-foot-six Welshman who as a teenager had been a member of the Young Communist League. Similar to David Byrne, perhaps, Gartside was a new waver notable for his high intellect, a trait signaled by the name he chose for his production company—Jouissance Ltd., which referenced the writings of Jacques Lacan—as well as his habit of hanging out with Jacques Derrida (!).

Even if you’re having trouble differentiating Scritti Politti from EBN-OZN, Aztec Camera or the Associates, it’s likely you would recognize the album’s biggest hit, “Perfect Way,” if you heard it. Cupid & Psyche 85 must have caught the ear of legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, for Davis promptly recorded a cover of “Perfect Way” for his 1986 album Tutu, a far cry from Davis’ heyday that became a surprise hit by catching the still-being-defined NPR demographic in just the right way.
 

 

 

When you secure Miles Davis to record something for your album, MAKE SURE YOU GET PICTURES.
 
For their next album, Scritti Politti was given the extraordinary opportunity of having Miles Davis agree to record something for their album, so he appears on the first single off their 1988 album Provision, the awkwardly titled “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy),” for which Davis supplies a solo as well as some additional noodling.

To my ear, “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)” is about two unfortunate steps closer to, say, Howard Jones to stand out, as it succumbs to a welter of bland ‘80s pop conventions. It lacks a good melody and most of the other qualities that made “Perfect Way” such a memorable effort. Indeed, one can’t help but wonder if the legendarily cranky Miles was privately disappointed at the effort.

Many years later, Anthony Reynolds interviewed Green Gartside about the band’s encounter with the iconic jazzman:
 

Reynolds: I think a lot of [Davis’] final works—Tutu in particular—have transcended their era now. I think maybe at the time a lot of people heard it as Miles trying to be hip and down with MTV or whatever, but I think it’s beyond that now.

Gartside: Yeah, I remember being at his place and he was still very actively interested in music and very discerning and listened to a lot. Including his own stuff. I remember he had a whole wall of recordings of himself playing live in various places and he would go very specifically to find one gig say that he did in Germany eighteen months earlier where he’d played something that he particularly liked. And he’s play it for us. And that showed someone who really did know where he was at. A lot of people thought he had lost it but not at all. He was also very into hip-hop and into listening to himself very critically.

-snip-

AR: Did Miles seek you out?

GG: Yeah, he did actually. I didn’t. I made no effort. He rang me first and kept on ringing. When I got back to London he’d ring me at odd times of the night and day and talk about working together and asked me to write stuff. It was strange.

AR: Did you ever figure out why he was drawn to you? I can imagine, after hearing the Cupid & Psyche album that he loved the production of it as much as anything. Cos he had a very progressive ... aesthetic.

GG: Yeah. He was interesting, and he told me that as far as his interest in me and my work went, he liked the attention to detail and the whole approach to vocals and melody reminded him of some Latin American music that had interested him years before. I can’t remember the names of the singers but that kind of non-ornamented non-vibrato. In a way that like, I guess he played very often. So yeah we had some interesting discussions about that kind of stuff.

 
After the jump, watch the video for Scritti Politti’s “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)” with guest trumpeter Miles Davis…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.12.2016
03:17 pm
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Pimpin’ ain’t easy: Miles Davis on ‘Miami Vice’
03.11.2015
11:20 am
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One thing about Miles Davis, he’s difficult to mistake for anyone else on the planet. With his high forehead, pinched features, and ultra-raspy voice, he’s so incredibly distinctive a person that it rather impedes any endeavors he might make into vanish into a role in an actorly way—he’s always unmistakably “Miles Davis.” For whatever reason (probably $$$), in 1985 the most restless and innovative jazz musician of the 20th century decided that he wanted to take part in an episode of Miami Vice, at that time one of the hottest shows on TV. Watching the episode, it’s easy to see the appeal the show must have had at the time, the plot is threadbare and the acting attitudinal, but you get the trappings of an R-rated crime thriller without having to think too hard about it.
 

 
Davis appeared on season 2, episode 6, “Junk Love.” The idea is that Crockett and Tubbs arrest the owner of a whorehouse, a dude named “Ivory Jones”—played by Miles. They realize that a local druglord (of course) is obsessed with one of his prostitutes…. do you really want me to go on? The key here is that Ivory is a scumbag but collaborating with the local constabulary, which means we get plenty of scenes of him hanging out with Crockett and Tubbs. It’s a challenge to watch Don Johnson and not perceive him as doing a Kevin Costner imitation, but Costner wasn’t very well known yet. Most of Davis’ dialogue is semi-incomprehensible, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the genius behind Bitches Brew croak, “Watch that big cabin cruiser, he has a thing about them.”

Musical cues include Robert Plant’s “Little by Little,” Wang Chung’s “True Love,” and Bryan Ferry’s “Slave To Love.”

This episode is, unfortunately, only available on Hulu—actually the Cloo network, but it amounts to the same thing.
 

 
Thank you Joe Yachanin!

Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.11.2015
11:20 am
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Music meant for the Cosmos: Watch an intense Miles Davis concert from the ‘Bitches Brew’ era
02.16.2015
09:31 am
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Miles Davis
 
God, is this great. Here we have the incredible Miles Davis performance from the Tanglewood music festival, held in Lenox, Massachusetts, during August 1970. Earlier in the year, Miles released his landmark double album, Bitches Brew, and though the fusion of jazz and rock heard in the grooves was controversial amongst jazz purists, it was a big hit in the rock world. Thus, Davis found himself playing for a new and expanded audience, with the Tanglewood gig being one of the biggest shows he had played yet. The professionally shot video was recently uploaded to YouTube by the good folks at Music Vault, who own the rights.

Here’s an excerpt from their first-rate notes on the event:

Other than his appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival later this same month, the Tanglewood performance was possibly the largest audience that Miles Davis had encountered up to this point. His extraordinary band, containing many soon to be legendary musicians, was all deeply immersed in the early experiments into electric instrumentation. This incendiary performance captures Miles embracing a rock dynamic in his music that was more electric, more funky, more rhythmic, and simply more “out there” than anything that had proceeded it.

Much of the material performed this night derives from Miles’ studio sessions during the groundbreaking In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew album sessions. Because the performance remains one long continuous suite, it allows one to follow the flow and logic of the music over an extended period of time. This continual flow, devoid of announcements identifying the songs, often left critics and some listeners confused, but focused listening reveals that distinct changes are taking place. Miles is thoroughly in control of the musical direction at all times, whether he is in the forefront or not. Miles guides the music back to particular vamps or themes, continually bringing focus to the group improvisations. The swift and agile response of the musicians to Miles’ cues and coded phrases is truly remarkable and is a primary reason for the relentless intensity of this music.

Miles and his group were opening for Santana that night, as Carlos Santana had hand-selected Davis for the slot. Years later, Carlos had this to say about the performance: “The played music meant for the cosmos. It was out, it was in, it was unreal, and it was oh so glorious.”

The band:

Miles Davis - trumpet
Gary Bartz - soprano and alto sax
Chick Corea - electric piano
Keith Jarrett - organ, electric piano
Dave Holland - electric and acoustic bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums
Airto Moriera – percussion
 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Extreme Jazz: Miles Davis at the cutting edge of of the cutting edge, live in Vienna, 1973

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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02.16.2015
09:31 am
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New boxed set reveals John Coltrane created ‘terror’ during final tour with Miles Davis, 1960
11.20.2014
11:05 am
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All of You: The Final Tour, 1960
 
In 1955, Miles Davis hired an up-and-coming musician named John Coltrane to play in his group. Over the next couple of years, the team-up produced some incredible music, but the personal relationship between the trumpeter/leader and the saxophonist was never steady. Backstage at a gig in the spring of 1957, Miles slapped Coltrane and then punched him in the stomach; Trane’s only response was to quit the band.

Coltrane returned to join Davis’ sextet later in the year, but during that short time away he had continued to make a name for himself as a group member, bandleader and recording artist in his own right. Trane played on Miles’ Kind of Blue (1959), now considered one of the cornerstones of the jazz genre, and accompanied Davis on a European tour in 1960, but mentally he was focused on his own music. Miles later admitted Coltrane “was ready to move out before we left.”
 
Kind of Blue
 
The spring 1960 European tour was spread out over twenty cities in nine countries. The new boxed set, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 includes recordings from eight of those performances. Though the Quintet sounds fantastic as a unit, Coltrane’s solos are so unusual they caused quite a stir at the time. Kind of Blue is a lovely record that is also easy on the ears, but Trane was doing his best to make this music sound ugly.

Journalist Frank Tenot witnessed the first show of the tour in Paris: “People were very surprised why there was no John Coltrane like on Kind of Blue. So, part of the audience thinks that Coltrane doesn’t play too well, that he was playing the wrong notes, involuntarily.” Tenot went backstage after the show to tell the saxophonist, “You’re too new for the people… you go too far.” Coltrane just smiled and said, “I don’t go far enough.”

Other critics who witnessed the shows wished that Trane had held back. One reporter called his solos “scandalous,” and wrote that they “bore no relationship whatsoever with playing the saxophone.” Another writer was so horrified he equated Coltrane’s solos with the very concept of “terror.”
 
Trane in pain
 
As the leader, Davis takes the first solo during every song on these recordings, and as much as I dig Miles—his solo turns are as interesting and as exquisite as ever—after a couple of tracks, I found myself waiting for Coltrane to step up and blow me away. And he would do just that. Every time. It’s fascinating to hear him push the material—and thus, the band—especially as this was Miles’ group, not his. The fact that we now know he had mentally moved on from his role with Davis, as well as facing negative reactions to his output, only makes listening to these tracks all the more absorbing.
 
John Coltrane and Miles Davis
 
The Miles Davis Quintet returned to the states on April 11th, and it wouldn’t be long before Coltrane would make his exit. By then, Trane had made a name for himself and was well on his to becoming one of the titans of jazz.
 
John Coltrane
 
Some of the recordings on the boxed set are taken from radio broadcasts, while others were captured privately by audience members. Initially, my expectations were somewhat low as far as the fidelity of these live tapes—which date from over a half century ago—but aside from a couple of muddy sounding tracks and occasional issues with how the musicians were mic’d, the sound quality ranges from very good to surprisingly great. Hear for yourself, as we have an exclusive preview track, an up tempo version of “So What,” recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on March 22nd, 1960. The faster beat and Trane’s dissonant solo result in something excitingly different than the subdued mood created for the familiar Kind of Blue version. Enjoy.

All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 will be released on December 2nd.
 

 
Here’s a 1959 TV clip of “So What” played at a pace that more closely resembles the one found on Kind of Blue, but with Coltrane beginning to stretch, feeling his way towards the type of solos he would play on his final tour with Miles:
 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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11.20.2014
11:05 am
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Extreme Jazz: Miles Davis at the cutting edge of of the cutting edge, live in Vienna, 1973
08.18.2014
07:17 pm
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In the work of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen—who Miles Davis admitted was a huge influence on him musically—there is a trademark thing he does where one sound will suddenly cut through all the rest, like some sort of electronic squiggle noise, distinguishing itself from everything else going on—the audio version of a shape, if that makes any sense—and then suddenly it’s gone again. There’s dissonance and then there’s a sudden sonic counterpoint to that, as can be heard in the 1973 concert appearance by Miles Davis and his septet recorded in Vienna.

In the foreground, you have Miles’ wasp-like trumpet, Dave Liebman’s sax and flute and the inspired to the point of insanity fretwork of Reggie Lucas and Pete Cosey, whose wailing guitars shrieking through pedal effects rise up for a moment and then scurry away. Bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster and percussionist James Mtume keep the music from fragmenting into atomic particles. Everything is in service of an utterly monstrous cosmic groove here. Even the guitars are often used in a sort of percussive manner—not rhythmic—giving the music a dangerous, propulsive edge that occupies the spot where the Venn diagram intersects spacerock with Fela Kuti’s deepest, darkest funk workouts and Can, The Pop Group and Jimi Hendrix’s “Band of Gypsys.”

It’s fascinating to get to see the hands of the players here, especially Michael Henderson’s nimble fingers and Pete Cosey’s astonishing twelve-string guitar solo at the 30 minute mark that sounds just like Snakefinger!

If I’m to be honest, of the hundreds of hours of possibilities, if I’m going to pull out a Miles Davis CD, it’s usually—almost always—going to be Agharta, Pangaea or Dark Magus. I gravitate to these very specific “Electric Miles” albums instead of the others because the early 70s Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea-era live stuff just sounds too “noodley” to me. I bought Live Evil expecting another Dark Magus, but I think it sucks. Black Beauty, recorded live at the Fillmore West in 1970 is another one that I give thumbs down to. Everyone has their favorite Miles Davis period and the extremely extreme 1973 to 1975 period with this very specific group of sidemen represents mine.

The only way to fully appreciate this show is to crank it up so loud that your neighbors hate your guts…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.18.2014
07:17 pm
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The (almost) unknown art of Miles Davis
08.15.2014
09:32 am
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Although his art would adorn one of his record releases from time to time, Miles Davis didn’t begin to draw and paint in earnest until he was in his mid-fifties, during the early 1980s and a period of musical inactivity. Miles being Miles, he didn’t merely dabble, but made creating art as much a part of his life as making music in his final decade. He was said to have worked obsessively each day on art when he wasn’t touring and he studied regularly with New York painter Jo Gelbard.

His style was a sharp, bold and masculine mixture of Kandinsky, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Picasso and African tribal art. I also find his work puts me in mind of the output of painter Phil Frost.

Davis’ paintings weren’t exhibited much during his lifetime, but since his death in 1991, his estate has mounted several traveling gallery and museum shows. Quincy Jones is known to own a number of Miles’ canvases.  In 2013, Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork was published.
 

 

“I’ve been painting and sketching all my life. Also, for my tailor I used to draw my suits, ‘cause he couldn’t speak English.”

 

 

“It’s like therapy for me, and keeps my mind occupied with something positive when I’m not playing music.”

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.15.2014
09:32 am
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Miles Davis and John Lennon were shit at basketball
08.14.2014
12:32 pm
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Miles smiles. The Lennons look on.

John Lennon and Miles Davis shooting a game of H-O-R-S-E and both failing miserably. Lennon is particularly bad, missing the backboard, even, but any commenters blaming his lack of game on Yoko will be banned from DM for life!

A crappy looking version of this has made the Internet rounds for a while, but it was so blurry that it was too hard to watch and ultimately uninteresting considering what’s actually there under the layers of VHS video murk. Here’s a superior version where you can actually see what’s happening.

This was apparently shot by Jonas Mekas at a party at Allen Klein’s house in the Bronx in June 1971. Ringo Starr, Allen Ginsberg, Phil Spector, Phil Ochs and Andy Warhol were also said to have been in attendance. The gorgeous woman with Davis is actress Sherry “Peaches” Brewer, who was in Shaft! and later married Seagram’s heir Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.14.2014
12:32 pm
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Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd: Musing on Miles Davis
08.14.2014
09:52 am
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In which our guest editors Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne of Electric Würms talk about the many unexpected ways in which the great Miles Davis has influenced their own music.

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”—Miles Davis

Electric Wurms’ Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk EP is comes out on CD, vinyl and iTunes via Warner Bros. Records on August 19th. Later today we’ll premiere the Miles Davis-influenced track “Transform!!!”  from the new release.

“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”—Miles Davis

 

Posted by Electric Würms
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08.14.2014
09:52 am
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Watch Miles Davis improvise the soundtrack to Louis Malle’s ‘Elevator To The Gallows’
08.13.2014
07:50 am
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This is like watching Picasso paint: Behold as Miles Davis watches Louis Malle’s French film noir, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (“Elevator to the Gallows”) and improvises his moody soundtrack score.

Ascenseur pour l’échafaud was the celebrated director Louis Malle’s feature film debut and starred Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet as lovers planning a murder. The two day recording session was held at Le Poste Parisien Studio in Paris on December 4th and 5th, 1957 and featured French session musicians René Urtreger, Pierre Michelot and Barney Wilen along with American drummer Kenny Clarke. After getting some basic cues and the key from Davis, the soundtrack was totally improvised while the musicians watched the movie on a screen.  The soundtrack seems to be a well-kept secret in the Miles Davis discography which is odd considering that the modal experimentations laid down for Malle’s film clearly led to what came soon afterwards in a similar vein, Milestones and his all time classic Kind of Blue album.
 

Miles Davis and Jeanne Moreau, Paris, 1957
 
It could be argued that Malle’s cinematic style and the unique pacing and character of this particular film—which Miles obviously had to conform to in order score it properly—had a noticeable influence on his music. Jazz critic Phil Johnson described the Ascenseur pour l’échafaud soundtrack as having “the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.13.2014
07:50 am
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Animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ ‘So What’
07.25.2014
02:33 pm
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Mesmerizing animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ “So What” by Dan Cohen on YouTube.

If I had seen something like this around when I was younger, it would have made piano lessons and learning to read music oh so much easier…

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.25.2014
02:33 pm
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‘Miles Davis bores us’: Miles gets knighted in France, 1991
07.16.2014
09:50 am
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On July 16, 1991, just two short months before his death, iconic/iconoclastic jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis was honored with knighthood in France’s Legion of Honor, one of the highest cultural honors bestowed by that nation. From a New York Times wire service article:

Jack Land, French culture minister, described Davis as “the Picasso of jazz.”

“With Miles Davis, you are in constant musical adventure,” Lang said. “He has been able to cross all the eras while staying eternally avant-garde.”

Davis, 65, has recently given several concerts in France, which have not been well received. The headline on an article in Libération, a left-of-center national daily, read: “Miles Davis Bores Us.”

 

 
It’s tempting to write that kind of dismissal off as French radicals being, well, French (Libération was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, so it can hardly get any more radical or any more French in this particular instance) but by that time, Davis’ output was basically slick pop like Tutu, and his close-but-no-cigar attempt to catch up to acid jazz on the posthumously-released Doo-Bop. Trombonist and Village Voice jazz writer Mike Zwerin, who forever cemented his untouchable credibility by playing on Davis’ Birth of the Cool, wrote in an article in the International Herald Tribune the following day:

This summer he blanketed Europe under kliegs, playing not only a bass-heavy backbeat but also his hits of yesteryear (“Boplicity,” “Sketches of Spain”) and leading an all-star assortment of ex-employees (Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock). For at least a decade he has refused to look back, and I cannot help but wonder if this unexpected flurry of eclectic activity at age 65 is some sort of last roundup.

His current working sextet has been playing pretty much the same set and solos night after night, including Michael Jackson’s tired “Human Nature,” which has become his “Hello Dolly.” The band has lacked creative energy since freethinkers like Al Foster and John Scofield left in the ‘80s. No longer leading the way in the ‘90s, he is getting by on his (considerable) charisma, which is holding up better than his boredom-detector. When the French minister of culture, Jack Lang, made Miles Dewey Davis a knight of the Legion of Honor on Tuesday, it seemed somehow like final punctuation.

The article’s complete text is here. It’s excellent, very personal, and given how short a time Davis had to live, it serves accidentally as a fine eulogy.

Enjoy this brilliant footage of Davis in 1970, with Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette, among others, at the Tanglewood Festival, performing “Bitches Brew.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.16.2014
09:50 am
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‘Never-before-seen’ 1972 Miles Davis acetate from Columbia Recording Studios available on eBay
06.11.2014
09:34 am
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Miles Davis
 
A strange and marvelous item popped up on eBay recently—as of Wednesday, June 11, the auction in question, posted by reputable eBay user carolinasoul, has four days and change to go. As of this writing, the price is at $315, for which you will receive “one jaw-droppingly special piece, a likely one-of-a-kind Miles Davis acetate.” According to the handwritten label, the material was recorded on December 28, 1972.

The two sides—you can’t even say “side A” and “side B” in a situation like this—are 14:40 and 5:40 in length. According to carolinasoul, “We’ve identified the 14:40 side as a take of the track that would eventually become ‘Billy Preston’ on Get Up With It.” Davis’ 1974 album was the trumpeter’s last studio album before his “retirement” in the mid-1970s.

The material on the 5:40 side has yet to be identified.
 
Miles Davis
 
Here are the snippets of material carolinasoul posted as a sample:
 
Excerpt #1 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #2 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #3 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #4 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #1 of the 5:40 side:

 
Excerpt #2 of the 5:40 side:

 
Miles Davis
 
This is one of those auctions where it’s hard to believe that “No questions or answers have been posted about this item.”
 
Miles Davis, “Billy Preston”:

 


Thanks to Lawrence Daniel Caswell!

Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.11.2014
09:34 am
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