Tag Archives: Miles Davis


Runnin’ The Voodoo Down


Fred Hersch Alive At The Vanguard (Palmetto) 

Elizabeth Cook Gospel Plow (31 Tigers)

Ry Cooder  Election Special  (Nonesuch) 

Patterson Hood  Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance (ATO)

Dave Douglas Quintet  Be Still (Greenleaf) 

3Ball MTY  Intentalo  (Universal) 

Catbirds Say Yeah   (iddy biddy) 

Miles Davis “Shhh/Peaceful”  (Columbia) 

Mark Cutler  Sweet Pain  (75 Or Less) 

Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver  Altitude  (AUM Fidelity) 

Wayne On Trane

Today is Wayne Shorter’s birthday, so I dug up a chat I had with him years ago regarding John Coltrane’s impact and the way the two seminal saxophonists shared ideas. I like the “Lockjaw” Davis and Chu Berry part. Wonder if Wayne can do a slick Dexter Gordon? Here he is in his own words. Click into Accujazz’s Shorter channel while you’re reading. 

John’s wife introduced us in 1958. I was working with Horace Silver in New York. When I first saw him play, it was at Birdland; he was with Miles. He was doing lots of short phrases, all over the place. I knew there was something to that, that he was going to develop it, and as time went on those short phrases got longer and longer. Eventually they weren’t the same anymore. But that night with Miles, he was playing against everything, and when we talked about it later he said he was tired of playing against “Billy Boy” and things like that. After a while he stuck out like a sore thumb.  So he had to go with his own band, where it would all blend in.

When he was stretching out those notes with Miles, he knew he had to move on because it’s the only way his playing could crystalize. It would work better if he was the only one in the front line. He was actually orchestrating by instinct by not having another horn player up there with him. He would have to navigate that band alone. At that time I called the rhythm section the vessel. John was the leader. McCoy would join in with the navigation. He and McCoy were the front line.

After we met he invited me to his house. He said he wanted to get together because we were playing…not the same way, but in the same areas of the horn. He said, “You’re playing some funny stuff.” He wanted to sit down and talk about it. He’d play, I’d play, we’d talk about it. He was playing piano mostly, I think it was the beginnings of “Giant Steps,” those augmented thirds over and over again. Then he’d get his horn and play two notes over and over again. Then two others. Then two others. For a long time. We also talked about doing impossible things with your instrument. Not just thinking of your instrument for what it is, but trying to do things that couldn’t be done on it – going beyond the limitations. Like what Paganini did, and since then what other violinists have done. We also talked about starting a sentence in the middle, and then going to the beginning and the end at the same time. Musical sentences and conversation.

Other people came by, too. George Tucker the bassist. Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard. They’d all leave and he’d ask me to spend the night. We’d cook food. Then he came to my parents house on Thanksgiving. He talked with Albert Ayler; he liked him. He wanted to check out what was going on with the scene. Not just tenor, but flute and other things. I think that’s why he grabbed the bagpipes towards the end. Music is all encompassing. Charlie Parker realized that towards the end, too.

He would never crack jokes. Miles said Trane’s humor came out early. In the dressing room before the gig he’d start playing like “Lockjaw” Davis or Chu Berry, or someone real comical. Miles said Trane could do that really well, and that’s the sign of  a good musician, when you can impersonate someone with your horn. Obviously you try to stay away from that when you’re working your own thing.

From about ’55 on he had a sense of urgency, like he couldn’t get everything out that he wanted. I think he knew something about his health, even if he couldn’t pin it down. Maybe he went to the doctor and and the doctor said, “Hey, it might be soon.” Maybe he knew more about that around ’65.  But I imagine he got a hell of a physical. Being a serious person he might have taken that prognosis and used it as a yard stick to  see how far he could go.

Continue reading

It Hit The Racks On August 17, 1959

Take a moment to breath in the medicinal airs of “Blue in Green.” Thanks, Bill. Thanks, Miles.

The brushes on “All Blues,” the trumpet solo on “Freddie Freeloader,” Trane’s entry on “So What”? C’mon, what’s your favorite moment on Kind of Blue?

Fred Kaplan explained things pretty well a few years ago, didn’t he?

Don’t forget Ashley Kahn’s opus.


Video Games Play Kind of Blue

Video Games Play Kind of Blue

Wayne Coyne on Bitches Brew

Even with these three records you start to see that it’s not about precision, it’s not about songwriting. It’s about getting into another realm of the way you can make music. I try to forget about writing songs sometimes, because it can be a trap. You think about it too much. A lot of times the greatest music comes from playing it, then organising it later, you know? You have to surrender sometimes and let music do its thing. Bitches Brew is one of those records. – the quietus


We Smoked the Motherfracking Place

Digging the Derby: 10 Jazz Tunes To Spur On The Big Race

The most intense two minutes of annual sport – that’s what they call the Kentucky Derby, right? Hard to disagree. The horses and their riders prep for a year and they’re done in 125 seconds  or so. I’ll assume you’re one of the many who catches the event on the flat-screen, not one of the few who actually make it to Churchill Downs. And I’ll assume you need some tunes to tickle your fancy while fretting about that sizable bet you made earlier in the day. Here,then, are 10 songs with titles that can be applied to the contest at hand.  Throw ’em into a playlist and have fun. If they don’t work, call “Fugue For Tinhorns” jazz (it may well be) and have your fun that way.

Mint Julep, Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers (JSP)

Just keep sipping. Don’t let your mind wander to that wager you’ve made.

Saddle Up!   Bill Frisell, Go West: Music For the Films of Buster Keaton (Nonesuch)

Nice soundtrack for limbering up on the morning of the race.

Fast Track,  Miles Davis,  We Want Miles (Columbia)

Big grooves for a big day.

The Noonward Race, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia)

I’m not sure if good ole Seattle Slew could keep up with Billy Cobham on this one.

Gallop’s Gallop, Thelonious Monk, Live At The It Club (Columbia)

No one clops along as cleverly and confoundingly as Monk.

Racehorse, Count Basie Kansas City Three, For the Second Time(OJC)

Swinging around the track.

Daily Double, Buddy Rich, Ultimate Collection (Stardust)

If anyone can beat the odds and pick two winners at once, it’s Buddy.

My Gal’s a Jockey,  Big Joe Turner, All the Classic Hits (JSP)

Riding night and day, throwing that big leg over – how does Joe pay attention to the race?

Home Stretch, Billy Pierce, Equilateral (Sunnyside)

Check the snare, check the forward motion of the horn. They’re almost there…

Dead Heat, Kenny Burrell/Jimmy Raney, 2 Guitars (Prestige)

Definitely neck and neck down the stretch. Can’t really tell who won.

Photo Finish, Bobby Previte, Weather Clear, Track Fast (enja)

Sometimes it comes down to a shutter click. Previte knows all about chopping time into micro seconds.

10 Key Miles Davis Albums

A pal sent over a long-buried piece I edited for VH1’s Web site a few years ago. It was to spotlight Miles’ artistic breadth and celebrate Black History Month, which is once again coming to a close in the next few days, donchaknow. I’m not sure that I’d choose the same 10 titles if I had to do it all over again. But it’s a nice snapshot. Here, too, is K. Leander Williams’ spin on 10 Key Nina Simone tunes, and a team effort on 20 Great Bob Marley Songs, pieces also included in that 2007 presentation. C. Bottomley shared the writing duties on the latter. Into Marley? Check this chat with photographer Kate Simon as well.

Four Sides of the Birthday Boy

Listening to the live Tanglewood disc from the Bitches Brew 40th anniversary box. Quite killing.

I, Jukebox

Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes, Double Portrait (Blue Note)

Cecil Taylor, One Too Many Salty Swift And Not Goodbye (Hat Hut)

Lee Konitz New Quartet, Live At the Village Vanguard (Enja)

LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening (Virgin)

Larry Goldings, Awareness (Warner Bros)

Anthony Davis/James Newton, Hidden Voices (India Navigation)

Jean-Michel Pilc, True Story (Dreyfus)

John McNeil, Fortuity (Steeplechase)