Friday Open Thread | Jazz Week: Miles Davis

Today’s Jazz figure really needs no introduction: Miles Davis.


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Miles Davis – legendary trumpeter and bandleader, explorer of unknown musical paths and enduring icon of hip – would be celebrating his 90th birthday this year had he not departed in 1991. Yet by all measure his sound and stature is more alive than ever. The news of a major musical collection covering twenty years of historic live performances, and a full-length motion picture have already begun to generate headlines and other major media attention. A number of other projects are afoot as well, promising to add more interest to and raise his legacy higher than ever.

Immediately out of the gate is the release of Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4, a 4-CD collection featuring primarily never before released performances from a twenty-year period when the trumpeter delivered groundbreaking music every time he hit the stage at an event under the Newport banner. The set includes Davis performing in the company of his most influential groups, from his Kind of Blue sextet (John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb); his classic 1960s quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams) and his two-guitar fusion ensemble of the mid-‘70s (Pete Cosey, Reggie Lucas, Dave Liebman, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Mtume). Produced by Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, the historic release arrived on July 17, 2015 – 60 years to the date since Davis’ premiere performance at Newport in 1955 when he performed “’Round Midnight” in the company of an all-star band (Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Percy Heath, Connie Kay), inspiring Columbia Records to sign the trumpeter and initiating a thirty-year run of classic recordings.

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In addition, the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival paid tribute to Miles’ fruitful relationship with the annual event, and his enduring friendship with jazz impresario George Wein, whom he first met in 1952 when they were both beginning to make names for themselves. Many groups performing on the stages at Fort McAdams played tunes written by or associated with Miles, and Grammy Award®-winning author and music historian Ashley Kahn curated two seminars each day on the renowned trumpet player at the festival’s new Storyville stage.

Over six full decades, from his arrival on the national scene in 1945 until his death in 1991, Miles Davis made music that grew from an uncanny talent to hear the future and a headstrong desire to play it. From his beginnings in the circle of modern jazz, he came to intuit new worlds of sound and challenge. While the vast majority of musicians – jazz, rock, R&B, otherwise – find the experimental charge and imperviousness of youth eventually running down, Miles forever forged ahead, trusting and following instinct until the end.

In doing so, Miles became the standard bearer for successive generations of musicians, shaped the course of modern improvisational music more than a half-dozen times. This biography attempts to explain those paradigm-shifts one after another, through his recordings and major life changes.
The factors leading to that process are now the foundation of the Miles Davis legend: the dentist’s son born in 1926 to middle-class comfort in East St Louis. The fresh acolyte learning trumpet in the fertile, blues-drenched music scene of his hometown. The sensitive soul forging a seething streetwise exterior that later earned him the title, Prince Of Darkness. The determined teenager convincing his parents to send him to New York’s famed Juilliard School of Music in 1944, a ploy allowing him to locate and join the band of his idol, bebop pioneer Charlie Parker.

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It wasn’t long before the headstrong young arrival grew from sideman to leading his own projects and bands of renown, from the restrained, classical underpinning of the famous “Birth of the Cool” group (Miles’ first foray with arranger Gil Evans), to the blues-infused hardbop anthem “Walkin’”, to his first famous quintet (Coltrane, Chambers, Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones) with whom his recordings on muted trumpet helped him develop a signature sound that broke through to mainstream recognition. His subsequent jump from recording with independent labels (Prestige, Blue Note) to Columbia Records, then the Tiffany of record companies, propelled his career further from a limited jazz audience and a series of late ‘50s albums (Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess, Miles Ahead, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain) secured his widespread popularity.

Miles’ group shifted and morphed through the early ‘60s until he settled for a four-year run with his classic quintet, a lineup that is still hailed today as one of the greatest and most influential jazz groups of all time. Their albums together — from Miles Smiles, ESP and Nefertiti, to Miles In The Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro — traced a pattern of unparalleled growth and innovation.

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Had Miles stopped his progress at that point, he’d still be hailed as one of the greatest pioneers in jazz, but his creative momentum from the end of the ‘60s into the ‘70s would not let up. He was listening to the world around him — the amplified explosion of rock bands and the new, heavy-on-the-one funk of James Brown and Sly & The Family Stone. From the ambient hush of In A Silent Way, to the strange and unsettling – yet wildly popular Bitches Brew, he achieved another shift in musical paradigm and a personal career breakthrough.

Bitches Brew was controversial, a best-seller and attracted another, younger generation into the Miles fold. Thousands whose musical taste respected no categorical walls flocked to hear Miles, and a slew of fusion bands were soon spawned, led by his former sidemen: Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever. The studio albums that defined Miles’ kaleidoscopic sound in the ‘70s included a series of (mostly) double albums, from …Brew to 1971’s Live-Evil, ‘72’s On The Corner and ‘75’s Get Up With It. The covers listed populous line-ups that reached up to 11 musicians, adding new names to an ever-widening circle of on-call talent.

UNITED STATES - JULY 02:  NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL  Photo of Miles DAVIS, Performing live onstage - looking to camera.  (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

UNITED STATES – JULY 02: NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL Photo of Miles DAVIS, Performing live onstage – looking to camera. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

By the end of 1975, Miles was tired – and sick. A period of seclusion ensued, full years to deal with personal demons and health issues, bouncing between bouts of self-abuse and boredom. It was the longest time Miles had been off the public radar – only amplifying the appetite for his return.
When Miles reappeared in 1981, expectation had reached fever pitch. A final series of albums for Columbia reflected his continuing fascination with funk of the day (Rose Royce, Cameo, Chaka Khan and later, Prince), and the sounds of synthesizer and drum machines (Great Miles Shift Number 8). The Man With A Horn, We Want Miles and Decoy found him still working with Teo Macero and still surrounding himself with young talent, including bassist Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones). In 1985, his album You’re Under Arrest — with unexpected covers of recent pop charters (Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”) – brought the long Davis-Columbia association to a close. He embarked on a new relationship with Warner Bros. Records and producer Tommy LiPuma, scoring successes with Tutu (written in a large part by his bassist Marcus Miller), Music from Siesta (also with Miller), Amandla (featuring a new breed of soloists, including alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza, guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, keyboardist Joey DeFrancesco, and others) and Doo-Bop (his collaboration with hip hop producer Easy Moe Bee.)
Those titles proved Miles’ farewell, still pushing forward, still exploring new musical territory. Throughout his career, he had always resisted looking back, avoiding nostalgia and loathing leftovers. “It’s more like warmed-over turkey,” the eternal modernist described the music of Kind of Blue twenty-five years after recording it. Ironically, in 1991, only weeks after performing a career-overview concert in Paris that featured old friends and collaborators from as early as the ‘40s, he died from a brain aneurysm.

Like his music, Miles always spoke with an economy of expression. And for Miles, it had to be fresh, or forget it. “I don’t want you to like me because of Kind of Blue,” he insisted. “Like me for what we’re doing now.”

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There is a new biopic of Miles Davis out, created by Don Cheadle.

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73 Responses to Friday Open Thread | Jazz Week: Miles Davis

  1. eliihass says:

    “…Credit-mongering is a bloodsport in Washington, as the book makes clear. Back in the halcyon, pre-Benghazi days, when the U.S. intervention in Libya seemed successful, Clinton’s team wanted to make sure everyone knew that it was all hers. Top aide Jake Sullivan put together a list of items showcasing Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish” and urged the secretary to seize the moment with an op-ed articulating “something definitive — almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”

    Obama was more circumspect about the intervention. When then-White House aide Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Problem From Hell,” spoke up in the Situation Room about America’s moral responsibility to protect Libyan civilians, Obama snapped back: “This isn’t an opportunity for you to write a new chapter of your book.”

    But when Clinton shifted from secretary of state to presidential candidate, she disavowed a major element of the Asia pivot: the 12-country trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Though she supported it as secretary, her “political calculations during a Democratic primary were clear,” Landler notes. The move, appeasing key Democratic interest groups, stung her former administration colleagues.

    Such political calculations are a recurring theme for Landler, and they’re evident from the moment Clinton brought much of HillaryLand with her to Foggy Bottom. “Never before had the nation’s seat of diplomacy been so unabashedly political, with a constellation of Clinton-appointed special envoys and advisers, some of whom knew next to nothing about diplomacy,” Landler writes. “In some ways, she never stopped behaving like a candidate.”

    Political instincts guided Clinton away from issues she considered unwinnable, such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, with the new secretary of state outright refusing an early trip to the region that then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel urged her to take. They also served her well, as when she reached out to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell to get buy-in for her efforts to reestablish ties with Burma. “This was the kind of courtesy call that Barack Obama almost never made on Capitol Hill,” Landler emphasizes. And they compelled her to write lengthy for-the-record memos to the president as she exited the State Department, causing plenty of eye-rolling at the White House. “We didn’t need a memo to know Putin is an a–hole,” one Obama aide told Landler…”

  2. eliihass says:

    So much for the ‘pledge’ the GOP candidates signed to support whoever their nominee was…LOL

    And if anybody thinks that Romney or the Bushes and the others are disavowing Trump because of his ‘racism, bigotry, misogyny’…then they haven’t been paying attention…

    Romney and Jeb! and the rest are just envious sore losers…LOL…they’re so mad that their various (expensive!) attempts to cultivate and exploit the very same demographic and negative sentiments Trump has managed to effortlessly (and without much monetary investment!) harness to propel himself to the GOP nomination, didn’t work for them…

    But we are supposed to believe that the disavowing of Trump as the GOP nominee has anything to do with principles, morality, or disgust at Trump’s bigotry etc..


    The NeoCons and the Military Industrial complex want a candidate they can control…while the others are mad that mob didn’t turn out for them or crown them king instead…

    They’re all no good…every last one of them…

    • Ametia says:

      Speak on it. So transparent.

      Same goes for all these outcries of white anger!

      Why the fuck are you angry? Where you angry when POC, blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics were & still are being MARGINALIZED, slaughtered, disinfranchised, excecuted, voter supression, denied jobs, education, right to vote….?

      The list goes on & on. So save your anger and tears for someone who gives a good goddamm. Because I have no fucks to give for all this self-righteous white anger.

  3. eliihass says:

    The stuff you find on social media…

  4. rikyrah says:

    1200 COMMMENTS!!




    Damon Young, 5/6/16


    Okay. So I get why the meat is a big deal. Because meat is meat. But why is the potato salad such a thing? Why do people (and by people I mean “Black people”) seem to care about it so much?

    So, all food exists somewhere on the taste variance scale. On one end of that scale would be pizza. The worst pizza you’ve ever had was probably still somewhat edible. And, there’s probably not much difference between the absolute best pizza you’ve ever had and the, I don’t know, 10th best pizza you’ve ever had. Basically, there’s not a ton of difference here between the absolute best and the absolute worst. At least not the same as it is with other foods.

    On the other end of that scale would be potato salad. A perfect batch of potato salad will make you want to smack someone. A happy smack, but a smack nonetheless. A bad batch of potato salad will also make you want to smack someone. But this smack won’t be a happy smack. It’ll be an unhappy smack. An unhappy smack meant to injure. And then, after you’re done with the smacking, you’ll throw up. And then you might actually die.

    Basically, the difference between good potato salad and bad potato salad is the difference between Biggie and Big Sean.

  5. rikyrah says:

    So, Trump’s economic plan is to have the United States default to its creditors?



    The Dollar is the gold standard in International Finance – because people believe in it.


    You phuck with that, and you might as well stop printing dollars, and start printing whatever currency China has.

    OMG…If Senator Barack Obama had suggested something like this, he would have been laughed off the national stage.

    This Is Astounding

    Published May 6, 2016, 1:28 PM EDT

    So many stories in presidential politics, in all politics, are more sound and fury than substance. This one isn’t. It’s hard to overstate how big a deal it is. Donald Trump caught a lot of grief during the primaries for putting several of his companies through bankruptcies during his career. He’s also made a point of arguing that he’d bring his brand of “deal-making” to the presidency. It now seems like both of those things may have been way more significant than maybe anyone realized.

    On CNBC this morning Trump suggested that one strategy he’ll use for reducing the national debt is having bond holders accept “haircuts”. To be clear what that means, he’ll try to get people who own US Treasury bonds and are owned X to accept X/2, or some reduced amount of what they are owed.

    That’s called defaulting on a debt obligation.

    ByJOSH MARSHALLPublishedMAY 6, 2016, 1:28 PM EDT

    So many stories in presidential politics, in all politics, are more sound and fury than substance. This one isn’t. It’s hard to overstate how big a deal it is. Donald Trump caught a lot of grief during the primaries for putting several of his companies through bankruptcies during his career. He’s also made a point of arguing that he’d bring his brand of “deal-making” to the presidency. It now seems like both of those things may have been way more significant than maybe anyone realized.

    On CNBC this morning Trump suggested that one strategy he’ll use for reducing the national debt is having bond holders accept “haircuts”. To be clear what that means, he’ll try to get people who own US Treasury bonds and are owned X to accept X/2, or some reduced amount of what they are owed.

    That’s called defaulting on a debt obligation.

  6. rikyrah says:

    He’s from an immigrant family. Didn’t go to an elite school. His wife is as educated as he is.

    Congrats, Mr. Khan.


    Elections: Labour’s Sadiq Khan ‘set to win London mayoral race’

    Source: BBC

    Sadiq Khan looks set to become the new Mayor of London – boosting Labour after it slumped in Scotland’s elections.

    Mr Khan, who would be the city’s first Muslim mayor, is on course for victory over Conservative Zac Goldsmith.

    The result would bolster leader Jeremy Corbyn after Labour were beaten into third in Scotland by the Tories and lost English councillors.

    In Scotland, the SNP said it would form a minority government after winning its third election in a row in Scotland.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Obama Makes Case Against Donald Trump, Saying Presidency ‘Is Not a Reality Show’Article title

    Source: New York Times

    WASHINGTON — President Obama implored journalists on Friday to subject Donald J. Trump’s statements and proposals to intense scrutiny now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, saying the 2016 White House campaign should not be treated like a political carnival.

    “We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Mr. Obama said after being asked about Mr. Trump at a news conference. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. Every candidate, every nominee, needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny.”

    And he said Republican voters must now confront the choice they made in the primaries.

    “Their standard-bearer at the moment is Donald Trump,” Mr. Obama said. “Republican voters are going to have to make a decision about whether this is the guy who speaks for them and represents their values.”

  8. On my way to Austin. Josh is driving me to my appointment.

  9. rikyrah says:

    In Deeply Divided Chicago, Most Agree: City Is Off Course
    MAY 6, 2016

    CHICAGO — The people of Chicago are deeply riven by race, class and neighborhood, distrustful of the police, fearful of the growing rate of violent crime and united chiefly in their disapproval of the mayor’s performance and their conviction that the city is headed down the wrong track.

    These are among findings of a new survey by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which polled residents of a city that has been upended in recent months by revelations of questionable actions by the police, threats of a teachers’ strike, a school funding crisis and an uptick in violence.

    The poll finds broad discontent with the police and those charged with overseeing them, particularly among African-Americans. Residents expressed concerns about racial bias in shootings by officers and many show ambivalence about whether calling the police will ease situations or not make a difference.

    Residents of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, appear to have lost faith in many of its essential institutions, including the police, courts and the public schools.

    The sharpest levels of discontent appear among black residents on the South and West Sides. When it comes to hopes for young people, satisfaction with city services and — especially — expectations about interactions with the police, the divide between black and white Chicago is striking.

    “It seems like the police can do anything and get away with it,” Enix Daniels, who is 50 and black and lives on the West Side, said in a follow-up interview. “There are no repercussions. If we do something, we have to pay a bond before we get out. If they do something, they get to sit at their desk.”


    In the survey, 62 percent of residents said they disapproved of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s job performance, and only a quarter approved. Among blacks, his disapproval rating is 70 percent.

    Most Chicagoans say they doubt that the mayor cares much about the needs of people like themselves. Among black residents, the feelings are stronger: Only 8 percent believe that Mr. Emanuel cares a lot about people like them, and nearly two-thirds think he cares not much or not at all.

    Responding to the survey’s findings, a spokesman for the mayor spoke of work already underway.

  10. Ametia says:

    But these MOFOs don’t want to report this

  11. Ametia says:

    So you can stop AUDITIONING too Hillary!

  12. rikyrah says:

    DA HAIL?

    One day after assuring Americans he is not running for president “to make things unstable for the country,” the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, said in a television interview Thursday that he might seek to reduce the national debt by persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment.

    Asked whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

    He added, “And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose.”

    Such remarks by a major presidential candidate have no modern precedent. The United States government is able to borrow money at very low interest rates because Treasury securities are regarded as a safe investment, and any cracks in investor confidence have a long history of costing American taxpayers a lot of money.

    Experts also described Mr. Trump’s vaguely sketched proposal as fanciful, saying there was no reason to think America’s creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, regardless of Mr. Trump’s deal-making prowess.

    “No one on the other side would pick up the phone if the secretary of the U.S. Treasury tried to make that call,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP. “Why should they? They have a contract” requiring payment in full.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Cook Political Report shifts a dozen states more blue.

    Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, 12 states just shifted in Democrats’ favor and one went Trump’s direction in the latest set of ratings from The Cook Political Report.

    The nonpartisan newsletter announced Thursday that it was changing 13 ratings on its Electoral Vote scorecard now that Trump has pretty much clinched his the GOP nomination, much to the dismay of some in his party (like say, House Speaker Paul Ryan).

    “Although we remain convinced that Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable and would probably lose to most other Republicans, Donald Trump’s historic unpopularity with wide swaths of the electorate — women, millennials, independents and Latinos — make him the initial November underdog,” The Cook Political Report writes. “As a result, we are shifting 13 ratings on our Electoral Vote scorecard, almost all of them favoring Democrats.”

    Indiana, Missouri and Nebraska’s 2nd district, which had all been labeled “solid” Republican territory, have shifted leftward in Cook’s ratings. Indiana and Missouri are now labeled “likely” Republican and Nebraska’s 2nd district has moved into a “toss up” between parties. (Nebraska, like Maine, can split its electoral votes.)

    Arizona and Georgia, which were “likely” Republican states previously, are now rated as “lean” Republican. North Carolina, which was previously a “lean” state for Republicans, has been moved to “toss up.”

    Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin were all “toss up” states, but The Cook Political Report now predicts they’ll “lean” toward Democrats. New Mexico, which was rated “Likely Democratic,” has shifted solidly blue.

  14. Ametia says:


  15. President Obama: “As a general rule I don’t pay attention to Mr Trump’s tweets”.

    slap smiley photo: smiley slap across room smiley_slapacrossroom.gif

  16. President Obama on Bernie Sanders: “Let the process play out”.

    • Ametia says:

      Exactly. The HILLSTER dragged out the process in 2008.

      Just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that the majority of American VOTERS didn’t want her ass in the Oval Office.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Man, I’m exhausted. Barely keeping my eyes open. It’s been a rough week…just gotta make it to the end of the workday.

  18. I tried to beat the fuck out of Washington Post claiming Hillary didn’t start the birther movement. Lying bitchassess! The 2008 Hillary campaign circulated this photo. What the fuck was that for other than to question Barack Obama’s citizenship.

    Hillary smears obama in 2008 muslim

  19. Ametia says:



  20. Ametia says:


  21. Ametia says:

    Eiliihass, where are you?

  22. Ametia says:


  23. Have any of you given thought to Trump may drop out of the race once the Democratic nominee has been decided? His ideas are so insane I believe this is some joke on the American people. It’s a game cooked up between him and the Clintons. I believe it with everything in me.

  24. Ametia says:

    Going to see ‘Miles Ahead’ this weekend.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  26. Miles Davis was one cool cat!

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