Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Summer of Miles Davis

This summer could very well be the Summer of Miles Davis...not just at The Song Is...  This year is the ninetieth anniversary of Miles' birth.  Some of you may have seen Don Cheadle's movie about him as well.    Tonight I'd like to post Bill Cushing's tribute to this giant of jazz.  It was previously published in Stories of Music, Vol. 1.

 “Music isn’t about standing still and being safe.”
— Miles Davis (1926 - 1991)


two weeks after you died
a quarter-million thronged
by the St. Johns River
to hear the music you had spawned
hoping to see you
even in death
you never looked back
they were all there
            Hannibal                      Bird                
            Chick                           Jo-Jo   
            Red                             Jaco
            Bean                            Dizzy
            my favorite      Freddie Freeloader     

were a beacon
            a flagship for messages
                        of the heart

back to the crowd       unbowed
that proud dance-walk
announced by muted horn
that spoke
and broke
through all the bull
and told us about a place


ahead of everyone else
you spent a lifetime
            thinking for yourself
            speaking to every generation
playing it all:
            jazz                  blues
            funk                 rock
categories took
a backseat
to creativity
            and rhythm


            and feeling

I remember fourth grade
picking up a horn
then laying it down
rock and roll was my world
what did I know

seven years later I heard

it was in the Garden
where you brought me back
to music

I walked all the way home


from that train station
my head pounding with sounds
frantic-fast as the subway
I spent the night on
            those African rhythms
            you used decades
            before anyone else
            even thought to
filling my head
letting me know
I’d have it all down cold
if I could walk
as cool as the notes you heard
            coming from


you had that thing
            that style
that spark that was
a blue flame
            off a gas stove
igniting everything                  everywhere
touching the genetic
in all


Let's listen to some of Miles' music as well, starting with "Freddie Freeloader."

I'll include his "All Blues":

Here is a live version of "On Green Dolphin Street":

"Bags' Groove" also features Sonny Rollins and Milt Jackson:

Let's skip a few years to Bitches Brew.

Here is "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down":

I'll finish with a live version of his "Time After Time":

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