Wayne Shorter Talks Saxophone and Saxophonists
This 1992 interview of Wayne Shorter by fellow saxophonist Mel Martin is wonderfully in-depth and revealing. Wayne talks about horns, meeting John Coltrane and Lester Young, joining Blakey and Miles and other early career highlights.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Celebrate the Birthday of Gil Evans: Born May 13, 1912
Gil Evans, arranger, composer and bandleader extraordinaire, would have been 101 years old this May 13.
Some ways to celebrate: New Yorkers can check out nearly a week’s worth of Gil’s music played live by Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project at the Jazz Standard. Or, pull out some of Gil’s music at home: if you’re lucky enough, maybe Mosaic’s out-of-print box set: Miles Davis/Gil Evans - The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings.
In his frontespiece for the notes for that set, Quincy Jones wrote:
“In a little less than three years time, beginning in May 1958 and completed by March 1960, the collaborative efforts of jazz giants Miles Davis (trumpet-flugelhorn soloist) and Gil Evans (arranger-composer-conductor) resulted in the making of three landmark recordings still unsurpassed in the history of jazz.
“These albums, Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, are the masterpieces created by the reunion of two great masters.
“If ever pushed for a choice of desert island music, Miles and Gil, these albums would indubitably be my top three. This is as good as it gets. Timeless!”
Timeless to be sure. Happy birthday, Gil.
Photo of Gil Evans by William Claxton, via @jazzstagenet.Read More
Exhibit of Miles Davis Artwork On the Way
Musicians and actors who also paint often get treated with kid gloves over work that would not get any attention if done by an unknown. Not so with Miles Davis, who had a wonderful technique and a unique sense of form and color. I recently walked into the conference room at a New York law firm which was filled Miles’s work. It’s really quite vibrant up close.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Excellent Documentary Footage On The Miles Davis Quintet
Check out this with great interview segments with Miles, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. I’d never seen this before but it’s a wonderful 14-mnute crash course on of the most complex and intuitive ensembles in jazz history.
-Michael CuscunaView Video
How Dave Holland Joined Miles Davis
Peter Blasevick pointed to this interview with Dave Holland, conducted by Dr.David Schroeder for NYU’s Steinhardt Jazz Studies Program. Dave relates in genial and often amusing detail the circumstances leading to his hiring by Miles Davis, and his first performances with the band. Listen to Dave Holland’s account, and watch the video clip the Daily Jazz Gazette recently posted of the Miles Davis Second Quintet, and get an immediate, colorful sense of the Miles Davis experience of the day.
-Nick MoyRead More
The Miles Davis Quintet: Always A Thrill
This killer clip of the Miles Davis quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams has to come from the 1967 European tour. It’s four smokin’ minutes of “Agitation” with Tony’s explosive drumming keeping everyone honest.View Video
Clark Terry: Trumpet Favorite of the Greats
This JazzWax feature on the wonderful trumpeter Clark Terry focuses on Terry’s early years, but even then, good things were already happening fast. His roots in St. Louis brought him into close contact with the young Miles Davis, who readily counted Terry was an influence; and Terry touches on his post-war gigs with Count Basie and Duke Ellington.Read More
An Afternoon with Miles Davis: Observations On Billie Holiday
by Nat Hentoff The Jazz Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 1958) (posted by http://jazzstudiesonline.org/ )
Miles lives in a relatively new building on Tenth Avenue near 57th Street. The largest area in his apartment is the living room. Like the other rooms, it is uncluttered. The furnishings have been carefully selected and are spare. Miles has a particular liking for “good wood” and explains thereby why his Down Beat plaques\u2014and even his Four Roses Award from the Randall’s Island “festival”\u2014are all displayed. He has a good piano and an adequate non-stereo record player.
The idea of the afternoon\u2014the first of a series of observations by Miles to be printed at regular intervals in this monthly\u2014was to play a variety of recordings for him and transcribe his reactions. This was not a blindfold test, for while I find those adventures in skeet shooting entertaining, I doubt if they serve much purpose except transitory titillation.
First was Billie Holiday’s 1937 / Must Have That Man with Wilson, Clayton, Goodman, Young , Green, Page and Jo Jones. “I love the way Billie sings,” Miles began. “She sings like Lester Young and Louis Armstrong play, but I don’t like all that’s going on behind her. All she needed was Lester and the rhythm. The piano was ad libbing while she was singing, which leads to conflict, and the guitar was too loud and had too much accent on every beat.”
Miles was asked whether he agreed with most of the writers on jazz that the Billie of 20 years ago was the “best” Billie and that she is now in decline. “I ‘d rather hear her now. She’s become much more mature.
Sometimes you can sing words every night for five years, and all of a sudden it dawns on you what the song means. I played My Funny Valentine for a long time\u2014and didn’t like it\u2014and all of a sudden it meant something. So with Billie, you know she’s not thinking now what she was in 1937, and she’s probably learned more about different things. And she still has control, probably more control now than then. No , I don’t think she’s in a decline.
” What I like about Billie is that she sings it just the way she hears it and that’s usually the way best suited for her. She has more feeling than Ella and more experience in living a certain way than Ella . Billie’s pretty wild, you know.
“She sings way behind the beat and then she brings it up\u2014hitting right on the beat. You can play behind the beat, but every once in a while you have to cut into the rhythm section on the beat and that keeps everybody together. Sinatra does it by accenting a word. A lot of singers try to sing like Billie, but just the act of playing behind the beat doesn’t make it sound soulful.View Video
Fusion: Music Defying Definition
Fusion is a musical category no one has been able to define because it contains so many diverse artists. Basically, in 1969, it was coined to mean a fusion of jazz and rock. By 1970, it came to mean anything that was successful and pure jazz audiences hated. The audio examples on this NPR piece glimpse the diversity of what was going on in the ‘70s. Fusion continues and has exploded its boundaries well beyond the music created 30 years ago.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Billy Harper: His Birthday, Our Gifts.
Saxophonist Billy Harper just turned 70, still brimming with youthful power. I’ve never met a more vigorous advocate for Billy Harper than critic Richard Scheinin, who wrote this 2001 profile, replete with Harper’s account of turning down a job with Miles Davis. He also pointed to this video clip, opening smack in the middle of a searing Harper solo on Monk’s ‘Round Midnight, with Max Roach, bassist Reggie Workman and trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater fanning the flames. And he even compiled this Billy Harper discography. Thanks, @richardscheinin; think we’re ready to celebrate.
-Nick MoyView Video