miles davis

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HARRY BELAFONTE, ACTIVIST AND SINGER, INTERVIEWED (2000)

HARRY BELAFONTE, ACTIVIST AND SINGER, INTERVIEWED (2000)

Harry Belafonte’s voice has been his passport. It was his passage out of poverty as a young man and has allowed him access to the hearts of people as he tirelessly articulates the struggle for human rights.As he stood alongside Dr Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela as a friend and confidant, his was a compassionate...

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (Blue Note)

Cassandra Wilson: Loverly (Blue Note)

More so than her Blue Note labelmate Norah Jones, vocalist Wilson (along with violinist Regina Carter on Verve incidentally) has redefined the parameters of what we know as "jazz" in the 21st century.Jones may be a superb jazzy singer-songwriter with a country heart, but Wilson can turn her attention to material from all across the...

CHARLIE PARKER: A life and musical shards of light

CHARLIE PARKER: A life and musical shards of light

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in his characteristically clipped manner once observed that “the history of jazz can be told in four words: Louis Armstrong – Charlie Parker.” In offering those two names Davis highlighted two vastly different lives and two facets of genius. Armstrong was undoubtedly one of the great artists...

MILES DAVIS, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1990): Miles runs the voodoo down

MILES DAVIS, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1990): Miles runs the voodoo down

When trumpeter Miles Davis turned 60 in 1986 the New York weekly Village Voice marked the occasion with a lavish 28-page supplement of essays and critical opinion. By way of introduction the editor, Gary Giddins, wrote words which seemed admirably bare and understated: “For four decades Davis has been in the forefront of American music...

MILES DAVIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Man with the attitude

MILES DAVIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Man with the attitude

It was probably about lunchtime in New York, but here in Auckland it was 4.30 am on a grim and watery Tuesday, hardly the best time to do a phone interview. Certainly not this prearranged caller to the man known as the Prince of Darkness and who has been known to open his end of the conversation with a terse “Don’t ask me no stupid...

MILES DAVIS IN CONCERT 1988 REVIEWED: The Prince claims the crown

MILES DAVIS IN CONCERT 1988 REVIEWED: The Prince claims the crown

For even the most devout Miles Davis follower, it was difficult to anticipate what the legendary trumpeter would pull out for his one-only Auckland concert. Recent albums weren’t helpful – they sport different line-ups to the seven-piece outfit he was bringing – and overseas concert reports were divided between...

WYNTON MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2000): Once more, back to the future

WYNTON MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2000): Once more, back to the future

To refer to Wynton Marsalis as a jazz musician is to unintentionally diminish him. Certainly he plays jazz trumpet, has released a couple of dozen albums in the idiom, was the catalyst for and focal point of a renaissance of jazz in the 80s and is musical director for the prestigious Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in New York.Yes, Marsalis is a...

MILES DAVIS, A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON: And a fighter by his trade . . .

MILES DAVIS, A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON: And a fighter by his trade . . .

An inch over six feet and usually weighing in just under 200 pounds.  Jack Johnson was perfectly proportioned for a heavyweight fighter. But as a kid in Galveston, Texas in the 1880s, he let his older sisters fight for him. At 12, Johnson jumped a ship for New York, returning a year later to work on the docks where he had his...

JOHN SCOFIELD INTERVIEWED: Has guitar, will travel . . . and travel, and travel

JOHN SCOFIELD INTERVIEWED: Has guitar, will travel . . . and travel, and travel

Looking back now it is hard to recall how it all started and who we should blame – but suddenly in the mid-70s there they were, electric guitarists spitting out notes faster than shells from an Uzi. “Fingers scampering across the fret board like a mouse on Meth,” was how Playboy described a 1975 Jeff Beck album, and the...

KEITH JARRETT'S THE MELODY AT NIGHT, WITH YOU (1999). Distilling genius

KEITH JARRETT'S THE MELODY AT NIGHT, WITH YOU (1999). Distilling genius

These days, Keith Jarrett gets as much space, sometimes more, in jazz encyclopaedias as the great saxophonist John Coltrane.  That irritates some people, it would be like Van Morrison getting more than Sam Cooke in a dictionary of soul. But there’s a reason: they’ve lived longer, done more. When Coltrane died in...

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

A little over three years ago an American magazine profiled alto saxophonist David Sanborn and included a selected discography. It made terrifyingly impressive reading. Aside from almost a dozen albums under his own name – and a pretty high count of Grammy awards among them – there were the albums where he’d had a guest spot....

JOE LOVANO INTERVIEWED (2008): Life is in the learning

JOE LOVANO INTERVIEWED (2008): Life is in the learning

At 55, Joe Lovano is one of the leading saxophonists of his generation, and has a career notable for its diversity. He has played straight ahead and swing, worked with Cuban musicians and orchestras, done an album of Sinatra songs, and has enjoyed two longtime musical relationships: one is with guitarist John Scofield whom he met at Berklee in...

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK (1936-77): Just a wild'n'crazy guy?

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK (1936-77): Just a wild'n'crazy guy?

Nobody talks about Rahsaan Roland Kirk much anymore. Maybe it’s because his recording career was too erratic, maybe because this sometimes fright-inducing multi-instrumentalist (literally, he could play three saxophones simultaneously) went kinda strange from time to time. You know what some listeners are like – they are dullards...

Jackie McLean: Right Now! (1965)

Jackie McLean: Right Now! (1965)

The Reid Miles-designed cover of this album by altoist McLean is a Blue Note classic. The hammered-out typewriter font blown up large and the thump of the exclamation point hinted at - and the intense opener Eco confirmed - the tough music within. Altoist McLean, born in New York in 1932, studied with his neighbour Bud Powell and played with...

CHARLIE PARKER: If only . . .

CHARLIE PARKER: If only . . .

The night I heard Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter had separated I went on a half serious, half parody, totally drunken Rod bender. I played all his Famously Scottish Songs (me‘n’Rod bellowing “here’s one Jacobite, won’t be home tonight” across 2am suburban streets), some of the old classics (I may have even...

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)

Take it from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis. For slow romantic action when he wants to make out, it's the album he plays. Steely Dan's Donald Fagen likes the trance-like atmosphere it creates, and that it's "like sexual wallpaper." And jazz-rock guitarist John Scofield says that 35 years ago it was so common you...

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

After the long drought came the flood: just 10 days on from Herbie Hancock’s Auckland concert in early 2007 came that by Chick Corea, a keyboard player whose jazz career is equally long and diverse. For jazz lovers used to years between international artists of this calibre, these musicians connect to two great periods in jazz: Corea...

JEFF BECK INTERVIEWED AND REVIEWED (2008): If truth be known

JEFF BECK INTERVIEWED AND REVIEWED (2008): If truth be known

It might not be the first question you ask guitarist Jeff Beck -- it was actually my last -- but it does need to be put: “So Jeff, when you saw Spinal Tap did you think, “Oi, that geezer’s got my hair on?’ “ Beck, who has long had a reputation as a difficult customer -- but hasn’t proven so in this...

JOHN McLAUGHLIN INTERVIEWED (2009): Has guitars, will travel

JOHN McLAUGHLIN INTERVIEWED (2009): Has guitars, will travel

"I'm still at the beginning of my life and career,” says 67-year old guitarist John McLaughlin. “I don’t really think much about what I’ve done, I don’t have much time to think about what I’ve done. “It’s a worn out phrase, but today is a brand new day and there is a lot to do -- but...

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The Dude, back on the block

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The Dude, back on the block

Quincy Jones doesn’t quite put it this way, but he knows that with great power comes great responsibility. And Jones has great power because of a financial empire founded on an extraordinary career in music which spans from bebop to hip-hop. This is the man who hung out with jazz artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the...

LESTER BOWIE REMEMBERED (1941-1999): Does humour belong in music?

LESTER BOWIE REMEMBERED (1941-1999): Does humour belong in music?

Humour hasn’t had much place in jazz. Certainly Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong entertained by mugging things up. But mostly jazz is poker-faced music played to furrowed brow audiences which think it’s somehow more morally uplifting than other music. A couple of years ago Denis Dutton, the philosopher/academic from...

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

It’s disappointing and embarrassing that one encounter may put you off a musician for such a long time. Then, shame-faced, you crawl your way back later and have to concede everybody else was right. When I first heard The Band I was into loud rock’n’roll and these country music guys just seemed exceptionally dull and -- the...

HORACE SILVER, JAZZ PIANO LEGEND: Fifty years of Peace, in our time

HORACE SILVER, JAZZ PIANO LEGEND: Fifty years of Peace, in our time

When I was at school, my dad wasn’t concerned about what marks I got. All he wanted to know was, ‘Where were you in the class?’ He figured while 82 per cent sounds impressive, if everyone else got in the 90s then you were in the bottom. That isn’t quite so impressive. The only thing worth knowing was the comparison....

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

ORNETTE COLEMAN AND THE NAKED LUNCH SOUNDTRACK (1991): Something else, again

Movie director David Cronenberg was a gutsy guy, asking Ornette Coleman to play on the soundtrack for his inspired but ultimately flawed realisation of crusty old Bill Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Ornette Coleman was the perfect choice, of course – eccentric and of Burroughs’ period, he'd spent time in those hills above Tangiers...

THELONIOUS MONK AND JOHN COLTRANE IN 1957: Genius loves company

THELONIOUS MONK AND JOHN COLTRANE IN 1957: Genius loves company

Thelonious Sphere Monk was one of the most gifted -- and eccentric -- of all jazz musicians. The memorably named pianist/composer, who died in 1982 aged 64, helped define the bebop movement and his quirky, angular compositions are among the most memorable in jazz. To drive them home he gave them titles such as Epistrophy, Humph,...

THE BIRTH OF BEBOP -- A SOCIAL AND MUSICAL HISTORY by SCOTT DEVEAUX

THE BIRTH OF BEBOP -- A SOCIAL AND MUSICAL HISTORY by SCOTT DEVEAUX

Suggesting that this engrossing, historically investigative and anecdotally amusing book should be reviewed because it asked the question, "Was bebop jazz a revolution or simply a musical evolution?" drew the response: "Yep, that's a question that keeps most people awake at nights." Fair enough. But in these scrupulously...

JOHN COLTRANE AND MILES DAVIS: Genius at work and playing, 1955-61

JOHN COLTRANE AND MILES DAVIS: Genius at work and playing, 1955-61

For two people about to write themselves into music history, their credentials were not promising. Only a few years previously, the trumpeter was so hooked on heroin that he was almost unemployable and would often fail to show for concerts. The other was a little-known saxophonist whose career was sound but unspectacular. He had played...

CHET BAKER REMEMBERED: The long journey into night

CHET BAKER REMEMBERED: The long journey into night

Trumpeter Chet Baker's death in 1988 was tragic -- but, at 59, he was lucky to have lived so long. A brilliant stylist whose work in Gerry Mulligan's piano-less quartet in the early Fifties -- and whose recordings in Paris shortly afterwards -- are worth serious investigation, Baker modelled himself on Miles Davis at his most ineffably cool....

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

When this album came out in the mid-Seventies jazz-rock fusion was at its peak and many otherwise sensible jazz musicians were wooed to the dark side. Few came out with any dignity (they just didn't get "rock") but Dr Tree from Auckland nailed it directly at a point where they were most comfortable; more jazz than rock because they...

JIMI HENDRIX: THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE BOX SET (2000): Get experienced, but differently

JIMI HENDRIX: THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE BOX SET (2000): Get experienced, but differently

It should be easy to get together a thorough Jimi Hendrix collection. After all, his recording career lasted fewer than four years. Presumably, all you'd need would be his exceptional debut album Are You Experienced, the follow-up Axis: Bold As Love and the expansive, Essential Elsewhere double album Electric Ladyland. The Smash Hits...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Hassell: Last Night the Moon Came (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Hassell: Last Night the Moon Came (ECM/Ode)

By sheer coincidence, this new album by ambient trumpeter Jon Hassell (full title "Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street" from a poem by Rumi) arrived just as I was posting his 1981 release Dream Theory in Malaya as an Essential Elsewhere album. And it is pleasing to report that when it comes to his seductive,...

Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

When I imported this album in 1981 it was on the basis of faith: faith that the Melody Maker writer who had hailed it was on the money, that Brian Eno who appeared as a collaborator and on whose EG Music imprint it appeared was right, that it would be as good as their previous collaboration, and that it would arrive intact. My faith was...

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

When Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace band played in Auckland in February of 2009, I noted these players – in the vanguard of jazz fusion in the 70s – had re-invented it for a new audience: gone were the faster-than-thou solos which guitarist McLaughlin once inflicted (notably with his intense Mahavishnu Orchestra)...

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola returning as another Return to Forever; and other Seventies fusion artists on the trail again it looks like that whole movement has been...

BRANFORD MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2009): Putting the past to bed

BRANFORD MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2009): Putting the past to bed

Branford Marsalis, who played in bands with Sting and helmed his own Buckshot LeFonque -- which had a stab at the hip-hop-to-bebop territory -- is these days dismissive of his brief skirmishes with popular music. He’s back playing jazz and much prefers it. The audiences may be smaller but he gets to play exactly what he wants, can look...

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

To hear trumpeter Tomasz Stańko tell it, life in Poland in the 1960s might not have been quite as grim and mono-chromatic as we believe. -Certainly there was the irony of playing free jazz in the politically repressive atmosphere, and he laughs knowingly when offered a quote by composer-pianist Thelonious Monk: “Jazz and freedom...

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Polish trumpeter Stanko has been introduced previously at Elsewhere on the ocassion of his excellent Lontano album. Here with yet another line-up he essays some slightly sombre territory (The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch, Krzysztof Komeda's Dirge For Europe) with a kind of European stateliness which isn't quite as emotionally gripping as some...

PIANIST VIJAY IYER PROFILED (2009): The jazzman has a master plan

PIANIST VIJAY IYER PROFILED (2009): The jazzman has a master plan

Among the many things Wynton Marsalis learned from Miles Davis was this: never undersell yourself. If you know you’re a genius just say so. If you know the past and future of jazz just tell people you do. Don’t hold back, put yourself in the lineage, come off arrogant if need be. What Wynton didn’t learn was to say...

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

In late November 1963, a 5000 word profile of Thelonious Monk was scheduled to appear in Time magazine. Monk was to be the cover. An interviewer and jazz aficionado Barry Farrell from Time had spent months with Monk watching him at work and relaxing at home with his family, and the Russian painter Boris Chaliapin had been commissioned to...

AL DI MEOLA INTERVIEWED (2009): Guitarist from the loud to the listener

AL DI MEOLA INTERVIEWED (2009): Guitarist from the loud to the listener

At 55, Al Di Meola -- who still lives in New Jersey close to his musical roots -- has had a long and influential career, and was one of the great innovators on electric guitar. In the late Sixties and early Seventies he played small clubs in New York and around Boston while at Berklee, but was largely an unknown when he made his debut...

MILES DAVIS QUINTET; EUROPEAN TOUR 1967 (/Impro-Jazz/Southbound DVD)

MILES DAVIS QUINTET; EUROPEAN TOUR 1967 (/Impro-Jazz/Southbound DVD)

You might have thought in the decade since Ken Burns' groundbreaking television series Jazz that there would have been a slew of DVDs out there on the market to add depth to what he showcased. But there hasn't really been. Back before jazz was an "art form" few concerts were filmed for posterity. Jazz, by definition, was in the...

Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM/Ode)

Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM/Ode)

The album title here perhaps suggest rather more shadowland than is evident in these beautiful, sometimes light-filled duets by acoustic guitarist Towner and flugel/trumpet player Fresu. Certainly they head to the shadows for a lovely treatment of Blue in Green (from Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue), but with Towner's rich and inclusive...

Gil Scott-Heron: I'm New Here (XL)

Gil Scott-Heron: I'm New Here (XL)

When Gil Scott-Heron -- the American poet, activist and conscience of his nation from the Vietnam years to the Reagan era -- was jailed for cocaine in 2001, then again in ‘06 and ‘07, it seemed it was going to be the beginning of a slow, sad end for one of the most important voices out of black America. If he had done nothing...

BILL EVANS' 1963 ALBUM MOON BEAMS: Art from the heart place

BILL EVANS' 1963 ALBUM MOON BEAMS: Art from the heart place

By the merest shift of the prism Moon Beams, the album by the jazz trio lead by pianist Bill Evans, could easily be under Essential Elsewhere. But that of course would deny the genius of his recordings with bassist Scott LaFaro in late Fifites (and drummer Paul Motian) with whom he developed an intuitive understanding. But 10 days after...

Salon Kingsadore: Mountain Rescue (Sarang Bang)

Salon Kingsadore: Mountain Rescue (Sarang Bang)

Salon Kingsadore is another vehicle for Auckland guitarist Gianmarco Liguori whose earlier albums under his own name (with stellar guests) have appeared at Elsewhere, and who seems a hard man to pigeonhole. Here for example he leads the instrumental group of keyboard player Billy Squire, bassist Hayden Sinclair and drummer Steven Tait (with...

Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Red Eye/Southbound)

Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Red Eye/Southbound)

Bassist Dave Holland has always had a much deserved reputation for his big band line-ups for which he writes interesting charts and gets in some of the finest (and often up-coming) jazz players. Here he has the benefit of some established names: sax and flute player Antonio Hart, trombone player Robin Eubanks and vibes player Steve Nelson...

FREEDOM, RHYTHM AND SOUND: Jazz with a raised fist and a copy of Malcolm X speeches in the other hand

FREEDOM, RHYTHM AND SOUND: Jazz with a raised fist and a copy of Malcolm X speeches in the other hand

Few people today -- musicians included -- consider rock or jazz as “political”, even in the broadest sense of the word. Yet back in the late 60s and through the 70s large areas of both certainly were. Less than a year after that remarkable year 1968 (student demonstrations, assassinations, political oppression and...

CHRIS BOWDEN (2002): His slightly askew career

CHRIS BOWDEN (2002): His slightly askew career

Sometimes reviewers find words lifted from their articles as a banner for promotion. Film companies seem the main offenders in this: l’ve sometimes written unfavourable reviews of a movie only to see a few judiciously selected words like “an emotional rollercoaster ride” lifted out of a sentence which in full read,...

RAY BROWN, SUPERBASS (1926-2002): A talent beyond words

RAY BROWN, SUPERBASS (1926-2002): A talent beyond words

Ray Brown great practical joker. Once, in Japan, Brown --- bassist in pianist Oscar Peterson’s famous drummerless group, the most highly paid trio in the jazz world in the 1950s -- went to a pachinko hall, one of those gambling parlours where you are blinded by blazing neon and deafened by the incessant roll of small steel balls. He...

JOE HENDERSON INTERVIEWED (1994): A star to guide them

JOE HENDERSON INTERVIEWED (1994): A star to guide them

Joe Henderson is sitting at a press conference in Carnegie Hall, New York, patiently answering another dumb leading question. Someone among the contingent of journalists has just asked this legendary tenor saxophonist -- who turned 57 this week -- why it has taken so long for him to be recognised. Henderson smiles wanly and with the...

THE FATE OF THE NU: Something old, new, borrowed and Blue Note

THE FATE OF THE NU: Something old, new, borrowed and Blue Note

Pity any movement that describes itself as “New . . .” or, worse, “the future”. By definition i is fated to an inevitable and humiliatingly early grave when the next “new” movement, or something else promising to be “the future”, arrives. Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, new...

TRILOGUE; LIVE IN BERLIN 1976, a concert film (Jazz Shots/Southbound DVD)

TRILOGUE; LIVE IN BERLIN 1976, a concert film (Jazz Shots/Southbound DVD)

The tragic story of bassist Jaco Pastorius (1961-87) has been told in depth at Elsewhere (here) but this concert film from '76 -- with avant-trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and drummer Alphonse Mouzon -- captures him before the rapid decline through drink, drugs and neglect. In Weather Report, Pastorius's style often headed towards jazz-rock...

THE YOUNG LIONS OF JAZZ (1994): Tomorrow is the question

THE YOUNG LIONS OF JAZZ (1994): Tomorrow is the question

If rock is the culture which eats its young -- or at least allows Kurt Cobain to leave a suicide note which says “I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child” -- then jazz is the music which barely allows youth to exist at all. The contract of jazz almost demands its young artists leap...

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

Trumpeter Christian Scott out of New Orleans is a hot property in jazz these days. He has received considerable critical acclaim for his unique tone (he plays a specially made trumpet) and the intensity of his playing. He learned from grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison Snr and uncle Donald Harrison Jnr who had played in Art Blakey's...

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

From the opening bars - a slightly discordant guitar and unsettling drums and knocks -- this album announces itself as something delivering the unexpected by a young jazz trumpeter out of New Orleans. Scott, 27, and his smart young band here probe the edges of the avant-garde and free playing but always remain thoroughly grounded in the long...

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The boss back on the block

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The boss back on the block

Quincy Jones does quite put it this way, but he knows that with great power comes great responsibility. And Jones has great power because of a financial empire founded on an extra ordinary career in music which spans from be-bop to hip-hop. This is the man who hung out with jazz artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in the...

MARCUS ROBERTS INTERVIEWED (1990): Keys and thought in black'n'white

MARCUS ROBERTS INTERVIEWED (1990): Keys and thought in black'n'white

Recently a well known jazz writer, Pete Watrous - not known for his exaggeration - acclaimed Marcus Roberts’ new album Deep In The Shed as “the best jazz album for a decade.” Put that to 26-year-old pianist Roberts and he laughs (for the first and only time in an earnest half-hour conversation) and starts to sound like...

ROY HARGROVE INTERVIEWED (1990): Young man with a horn

ROY HARGROVE INTERVIEWED (1990): Young man with a horn

Roy Hargrove’s youth is the reason he doesn’t have too much to say for himself. At 20, Hargrove simply may not have all that much to talk about. After all, what can he have done? Quite a lot, in fact. Three years ago while still in high school, this hot jazz trumpeter out of Texas was playing on stage at the famous...

COURTNEY PINE INTERVIEWED (1998): Finding the inner man

COURTNEY PINE INTERVIEWED (1998): Finding the inner man

Courtney Pine is diverted from telling his daughter how Tony Blair trounced the opposition and of the legacy of John Major. “She's four months old, it’s never too early to start,” he laughs, then embarks on a discussion about cricket. “You’ve got a good team – and it’s a rebuilding...

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

Charles Mingus was one of jazz's greatest geniuses and remains among the most misunderstood. Irascible and demanding, his personality and roguish reputation often tower larger than his inspired music. The respectful Columbia Legacy reissue in '99 of two of his late Fifties albums – Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty – restored...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Miles Davis; Tutu (Warners)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Miles Davis; Tutu (Warners)

For Davis' most pure jazz followers who had forgiven him the street corner funk of the late Sixties/early Seventies, the trumpter was a lost cause on his return in '81 after almost a decade without any new studio material. From Man with the Horn to Your Under Arrest ('85) he was widely criticised for simply failing to play trumpet in any...

ORNETTE COLEMAN, DAVE BRUBECK AND ME: A Song For Guy

ORNETTE COLEMAN, DAVE BRUBECK AND ME: A Song For Guy

Ronnie Wickens was one of the last to leave my 50th birthday party at Portside. As I made for the door I looked back, and there he was at the bar chatting to -- maybe even chatting up -- a couple of girls in their 20s, friends of my sons' no doubt. Ronnie was somewhere past 60, but he still looked great. I don't recall what he was wearing...

MILES DAVIS; BITCHES BREW (2010): The sorcerer in his laboratory

MILES DAVIS; BITCHES BREW (2010): The sorcerer in his laboratory

Carlos Santana, who says rarely a day goes by when he doesn't listen to some Miles Davis, believes you only have to listen to the Davis' album Live at the Plugged Nickel -- recorded in December 65 at a Chicago club but not released until '68 -- to realise the trumpeter had exhausted standards such as Stella By Starlight and On Green Dolphin...

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

For a man who changed the landscape of rock -- and not so coincidentally my life -- his last resting place looks extremely modest. It is late 2002 and I am standing at a simple plaque in the grass with only a single glass of fading flowers on it. There are no visitors here other than me and my companion Tommy, a Norwegian music journalist from...

DAVE BRUBECK (2011): A jazz life of constant discovery

DAVE BRUBECK (2011): A jazz life of constant discovery

Dave Brubeck, whose hit album in 1958 was Time Out, understands time better than most of us. In December 2010 he turned 90 and although ailing, as expected, he had been playing right up until his late 80s – and been collecting awards and accolades. For many jazz listeners and critics Brubeck was always considered an intellectual...

THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1968-70): Lost in the big Apple

THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1968-70): Lost in the big Apple

If you had a bottomless pit of money to start your own record company, who would you sign? That's what the Beatles faced when they launched Apple Records in early 68. Their famous ad which invited people to send in tapes saw their office swamped – but not one act was signed on that basis: Badfinger (then known as the Iveys) came...

CARLOS SANTANA INTERVIEWED (2003). The Shaman of Optimism

CARLOS SANTANA INTERVIEWED (2003). The Shaman of Optimism

Carlos Santana is either a philosopher or a flake. His conversation is littered with high-minded thinking, but also slews into new age psychobabble which can be cringe-inducing and sounds charmingly naive. This is a man whose favourite colour is a rainbow and thinks MTV should play Stravinsky, but that's another story. This is 55-year-old...

PAUL HORN INTERVIEWED (1992): The healing force within

PAUL HORN INTERVIEWED (1992): The healing force within

For a man pegged as “the founding father of new age music," jazz saxophonist and flute player Paul Horn has a clear, pragmatic view of the music – which was spawned in the wake of his Inside album, recorded in the Taj Mahal in the late Sixties. That meditative piece -- which used the long acoustic delay within the...

JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Live in Paris . . . and New York

JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Live in Paris . . . and New York

The opening track on guitarist John McLaughlin's Live in Paris, usefully serves as a microcosm of his career. It starts slow, melodic and considered with McLaughlin peeling off memorable phrases, then picks up speed to hit a furious pace as he skitters around the fret-board like ferret freebasing. Things then cut back to irresistible...

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Although you could hardly argue with a line-up which had tenor player Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones alongside trumpeter Chet Baker, the result was a fairly mainstream, late Fifties sessions which -- while admittedly pushing Baker in a way he hadn't previously -- don't really separate...

MILES DAVIS AND QUINCY JONES AT MONTREUX: The circle is unbroken

MILES DAVIS AND QUINCY JONES AT MONTREUX: The circle is unbroken

It was emblematic of the soul rebel career of Miles Davis that in his final years he was painting as much as he was playing, had a cameo spot in a movie (Dingo) playing a pre-electric period jazz trumpeter, exchanging tapes with Prince, recorded with rapper Eazy Mo Bee and – most surprising of all turned up at the Montreux Jazz...

JOE LA BARBERA PROFILED: Counting the beats

JOE LA BARBERA PROFILED: Counting the beats

For some reason - perhaps because they work in a loud profession - you expect drummers to shout. Few do, and while Joe La Barbera may have started his career in the appropriately named Thundering Herd led by Woody Herman, the quietly spoken drummer doesn't shout about it, and doesn't bellow about his illustrious career either. For the...

SHEZ RAJA PROFILED (2011): Jazz with a world view

SHEZ RAJA PROFILED (2011): Jazz with a world view

British jazz bassist Shez Raja confounds expectation in the best possible way. A scan of reviews and comments in the British press for the Shez Raja Collective (which included saxophonist Andy Sheppard and trumpeter Claude Deppa on the new album Mystic Radikal) refer to funkmeister Bootsy Collins and Marcus Miller (behind Miles Davis albums such...

BLUE NOTE'S BRUCE LUNDVALL INTERVIEWED (2005). Riding high on a Blue Note

BLUE NOTE'S BRUCE LUNDVALL INTERVIEWED (2005). Riding high on a Blue Note

The most powerful man in jazz sits in his office six floors above Fifth Avenue, New York. He's smiling. Business is good. Bruce Lundvall -- who began his career at Columbia Records with a hip young Miles Davis -- has been heading the famous Blue Note jazz label for 20 years. And recently business just got better. Why? In a word,...

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

When fame called on Jack DeJohnette during his period in Miles Davis' innovative electric band of the late Sixties and early Seventies, he was ready for it. Acclaim outside their own world is unusual for jazz musicians, but DeJohnette had tasted it a few years previous in the Charles Lloyd Quartet which enjoyed that rarity, a jazz album...

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX: We're New Here (XL)

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX: We're New Here (XL)

Although much hailed -- perhaps because no one expected to hear from him again -- last year's I'm New Here by American poet Gil Scott-Heron did seem a little under-developed: pieces faded out, other bits were just snippets of conversations and so on. That didn't deny its visceral power -- made more so given his recently troubled life -- but...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Weather Report; I Sing the Body Electric (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Weather Report; I Sing the Body Electric (Sony)

One jazz encyclopedia says of this, the second album by the Joe Zawinul-Wayne Shorter lead fusion group -- "everyting about I Sing the Body Electric was very 1972 . . . the brilliant sci-fi artwork . . . the psychobabble liner notes". Another says "another document of the times with a sci-fi cover, impressionistic pieces, booting...

THE VERVE LABEL: Fifty-plus years, and what's the forecast?

THE VERVE LABEL: Fifty-plus years, and what's the forecast?

Sometimes, if we are lucky we can be at historic events. But we might not realise it until later. If a historic event is the Foo Fighters first recording as a band -- and remember Dave Grohl did the band's debut album himself -- then I can immodestly claim to have been there. It was in a BBC studio in London, Pat Smear lit one after...

TROMBONE SHORTY INTERVIEWED (2011): Born to blow

TROMBONE SHORTY INTERVIEWED (2011): Born to blow

Troy Andrews – better known as Trombone Shorty – is one of the rising stars of the New Orleans jazz scene. But he had a head start, he was playing trombone in local brass bands when he was six. He attended the same arts college as Wynton and Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jnr, got out and played with rock bands (Lenny...

Trombone Shorty: Backatown (Verve Forecast)

Trombone Shorty: Backatown (Verve Forecast)

This hot young trombonist, trumpeter and singer from New Orleans -- who plays the National Jazz Festival in Tauranga at Easter, and is interviewed here -- brings more than just the local funk and groove to his style. There is a gritty guitar part all over the urgent opener Hurricane Season here (and on the political/socially responsible...

SONNY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (2011): The old lion still prowling

SONNY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (2011): The old lion still prowling

Gary Giddins, America's most authoritative jazz critic, said of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins that he was “one of the last immortals, the most powerful presence in jazz today. He is its most cunning, surprising, and unpredictable improviser – the one musician whose infrequent concert appearances foster intense anticipation and...

TOMASZ STANKO, LONTANO: Emotion from a distance

TOMASZ STANKO, LONTANO: Emotion from a distance

Rock audiences have a forgivable problem with jazz groups: the membership of jazz outfits can just keep changing. If you like the Arctic Monkeys chances are you can expect the line-up not to change much over the years. Rock bands -- for the most part -- have an enviable stability which they guard jealously. Consider how long it took for...

MILES DAVIS, ON THE CORNER: The man with the bellbottoms

MILES DAVIS, ON THE CORNER: The man with the bellbottoms

The cliche has become so embedded that hardly anyone questions it: “indie label good, major label bad”.   As with most generalisations it doesn’t support much scrutiny: small indie labels may be more comfortable for musicians because they know the boss, but they can also be woefully amateurish, financially incompetent...

MILES DAVIS; TUTU 25 YEARS ON: Hope you like my new direction?

MILES DAVIS; TUTU 25 YEARS ON: Hope you like my new direction?

Depending on when he was talking and the mood he was in, Miles Davis would claim to have changed the direction of music three – or four – times. No one would doubt the impact of Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew – which might make the “three”. But the fourth? Although it didn't change the...

ORNETTE COLEMAN, LOVE REVOLUTION 1968: The Italian job

ORNETTE COLEMAN, LOVE REVOLUTION 1968: The Italian job

I thought I knew all about Ornette Coleman, a man nominally described as a jazz musician but among the most unconstrained musical geniuses of the 20th century.  I’ve got a couple of dozen Coleman albums on vinyl and at least that many CDs. I’ve got bootlegs and biographies, and a photo of Ornette and me on a couch in a New York...

WYNTON MARSALIS, FROM THE PLANTATION TO THE PENITENTIARY: Wynton in the 21st century

WYNTON MARSALIS, FROM THE PLANTATION TO THE PENITENTIARY: Wynton in the 21st century

 Only a few jazz musicians have actually changed the course of the music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis (twice, maybe three times) and Ornette Coleman undeniably reset the compass -- and Wynton Marsalis certainly did. However many would qualify Wynton with, “but not in a good...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Duke Ellington; New Orleans Suite (Atlantic)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Duke Ellington; New Orleans Suite (Atlantic)

Recorded in 1970, the same year in which Ellington played in New Zealand, this suite of distinctively separate but integrated pieces is -- according to Brian Morton and Richard Cook's Dictionary of Jazz on CD -- "arguably the final masterpiece . . . Ellington looked to create another of his quasi-historical overviews here, but there was no...

ORNETTE COLEMAN: Notes for the programme, International Festival of the Arts, Wellington NZ 2008

ORNETTE COLEMAN: Notes for the programme, International Festival of the Arts, Wellington NZ 2008

Few musicians remain creative their whole life. Most fall back on familiar styles or even phrases, others peak early and their career becomes a long and slightly embarrassing re-run of former glories. Yet Ornette Coleman (born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1930) has not only been restlessly inventive but is widely considered one of the great...

Quincy Jones: The professional in the pissoir.

Quincy Jones: The professional in the pissoir.

So there I was at the urinal when Quincy Jones walks and says, "Hi Graham". It was awkward to shake his hand so I just nodded and asked him if he was enjoying his evening. Now Quincy -- who famously said "You can't shine shit", but that was before boy bands and Dido -- didn't get where he is by being rude, so said he was having a fine...

Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

Recently I was asked if I would contribute a page to a monthly magazine on famous musicians I had met. That part was easy, I've met quite a few. But then the person said they would like to run the article with some photographs of me with such stars. "You must have hundreds," he said. I had to disappoint him: I always saw my role as...

Keith Jarrett Trio, My Foolish Heart (2007)

Keith Jarrett Trio, My Foolish Heart (2007)

Most people who know his music don't come to albums by jazz and Elsewhere pianist Keith Jarrett expecting to snap their fingers, smile at the swinging grooves and generally enjoy the good humour on display. Jarrett is usually a furrowed-brow listen, or in an instructively meditative mood. His emotionally dense, improvised solo piano work...

Loka: Fire Shepherds (Ninja Tune/Flavour)

Loka: Fire Shepherds (Ninja Tune/Flavour)

This duo out of Liverpool spring a real surprise on their debut album: it is cinematic-sounding electronica but much of it -- after the gritty sci-fi sonics of the opening two tracks -- is clearly influenced by the expansive mid 60s jazz sounds of John Coltrane (long and loping rhythms) and the early 70s urgency of Miles Davis when he hooked up...

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