Tag Archives: Miles Davis

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)

First Song This Morning, Final Song Last Night

Time to introduce a new franchise with a simple premise: corner a musician and find out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. Hopefully you’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

This edition belongs to Michael Attias, the Brooklyn-based multi-reedist who leads Renku, a trio that finds him in cahoots with bassist John Hebert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. Their latest disc, Renku In Colmbra (Clean Feed) assures us that agility is one of jazz’s bedrock traits. The trio’s chemistry allows for all sorts of post-Air excursions. He works with Tony Malaby, Marty Ehrlich, Fred Lomborg-Holm, Amanda Monaco, Ralph Alessi, and a host of others. Hats off to Michael for his participation; here are his thoughts on his recent spins.


Miles Davis – “Prince of Darkness” (Sorcerer)

It’s the incredible modernity of Ron Carter that gets me. We’re still dealing with the implications of the kind of elasticity and rhythmic/harmonic superimpositions at work under Wayne Shorter‘s solo. Hearing the original is always the emotional and physical shock it should be. The Sound of Tony‘s drums and cymbals – a blister of moon cut through black clouds moving. The injunction in this kind of beauty is  Rilke’s “You must change your life.”


Charlie Parker – Bird of Paradise (take C) – (Complete Dial Sessions)

Chosen for the intense physical projection of sound, shape, geometry and how singable it is – a sculpture held taut in mid air by the invisible wires of a melody that’s never played (“All the Things You Are”).  Learning to play it from Bird’s sound is about how many kinds of eighth note feels you can inject into your nervous system, how many ways of playing and falling from middle D in a fraction of a second. Things the Omnibook and jazz education cannot teach you, cannot graph into their coordinates. Nor the brutal sweetness of his attack.

renku plays at the cornelia st cafe on march 13

Goodbye Mr. Gumbie

That’s it for king of clay, Art Clokey. This episode scared me back in the baby days. “Are you afraid of a little piece of dough, Gumbie?” What’s LSD got to do with it?

I, Jukebox

Miles Davis, “Great Expectations”  (Columbia)

Jerry Bergonzi, Three For All (Savant)

Steve Lacy, “Robe”   (Black Saint)

Dominique Eade, “When The Wind Was Green”  (RCA)

Andrew Hill, Change (Blue Note)

Camper Van Beethoven, “We Saw Jerry’s Daughter” (Cooking Vinyl)

David Crosby, “Laughing” (Atlantic/Rhino)