Miles Davis is ONLINE.

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You might have noticed there have been a lot of non movie-related posts lately. Pretty obvious when you consider the movie is stuck on the development highway while Don Cheadle mixes it up with “Iron Man.”

The Miles Davis Movie blog is going nowhere. I’ve been at it for almost a year, and I love it. I’m grateful to everyone who stops by to chime in, say hello, or just check out what’s going on with the Miles Davis biopic.

But all ‘not related to the biopic’ posts will now find life over at MilesDavisOnline – a new blog I’m just pushing out into the world wide web.

The two blogs will most likely work together covering All Things Miles Davis. I’m excited about the new venture, and I hope you’ll swing by to take a look. I have some cool features lined up and, by all means, comments, opinions, suggestions and advice are always welcome.

Thanks.

– Jeff

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Welcome to Miles Davis Online

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Welcome to Miles Davis Online – a Blog dedicated to the legendary jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer Miles Davis.

The ambition of this Blog is to enable you the opportunity to discover and experience everything under the sun about Miles Davis. From his classic recordings and cool style, to his unmatched legacy and influence, to the enduring popularity – the goal is to curate a daily conversation about Miles Davis and appreciation of a remarkable career.

In addition to commentary, I’ll also have a variety of resources to help better explore the life and times of the legendary artist. I’m also excited about the interviews and features lined up, plus a special emphasis on community – Miles Davis and jazz in general.

MilesDavisOnline.com is about an obsession and appreciation with Miles Davis. But not just my own – the goal is to share the joy of Miles Davis with everyone and to bring as many opinions and ideas, feelings and memories as possible to the party.

Miles Davis is one of the most important pop culture figures of the 20th century, so there’s definitely never a lack of conversation material.

The daily news part of Miles Davis Online will function a bit differently as, say, following Wynton Marsalis with news about a tour, or new CD release. But trust me, there is plenty of Miles Davis news to write about.

In fact, with this being the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue, there must be a new retrospective or appreciation hitting the web everyday. It might be a stage play based on the life of Miles Davis, a set of skateboards based on Davis’ First Great Quintet or the goings-on with the eagerly-awaited biopic, but there is always something to write about when it comes to Miles Davis.

Miles may have left us in 1991, but his presence is as strong as ever.

More than anything I want the website to be entertaining, interesting and function as a central hub for fans of Miles Davis. There are some terrific Blogs and websites on the ‘net focused on jazz and Miles Davis, and I’m excited about being joining the celebration.

Miles Davis is among the most significant and influential musicians in jazz history.  His music, impact on popular culture and almost mythological story of talent, survival and defying expectations has fascinated me from the day I bought my first Miles Davis record.

Throughout his 50-year career, Miles Davis demonstrated a remarkable ability to thrive in changing times, moving deftly from cool jazz and bebop to fusion and jazz-funk – writing his own rules and history every step of the way. That history is a source of endless fascination; studying a man, both devil and angel, who helped shape the world of modern music. This blog allows me the opportunity to explore my interest further, while writing about the daily goings-on in the world of Miles Davis.

In the end, Miles Davis’ gift to our life and times extends well beyond his music – a social critic, an arbiter of style and a toughness matched only by his warmth and humor.

Miles Davis Online is a tribute to that legacy.

It is also a present-day narrative about how the legend co-exists in today’s music and pop culture landscape; like fellow icons Elvis and Sinatra, the mythology only becomes more impressive and revered over time, but it’s fascinating to observe their role in modern culture.

And with that, I say welcome!

– Jeffrey Hyatt

Miles Davis + Skateboard = So Cool

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Growing up I was more into surfing than skateboarding, but one look at Western Edition’s Miles Davis ‘59 Quintet Boards, and I’m ready to hit the local skate park immediately.

If there were any doubt about Miles Davis’ everlasting appeal to creative types look no further than these awesome skateboards from Western Edition’s 10-year Spring/Summer 2009 collection – a set of five each featuring a band member who played on “Kind of Blue” 50 years ago.

Western Edition is celebrating 10 years of board making this year, which also coincides nicely with the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ classic “Kind of Blue” album. What better way to celebrate than to build a set of freakin’ cool skateboards featuring the Miles David Quintet? None, this is perfect!

Maybe you’d prefer to catch mad air with John Coltrane under your feet. Or grind with bassist Paul Chambers. The whole gang is here in an amazing set of skateboards. I will take all five please!

The series includes two tee shirts featuring the Miles Davis graphic and a quintet of postcards to be included with each board.

Listen… to Miles Davis

miles9Via David Hill at the always enjoyable jazz Hot House, I was reminded of Lockwood & Summit’s fantastic (and rare) audio interview of Miles Davis on KXLW in East St. Louis from 1953. Miles was visiting with DJ Harry Frost on his ‘Fresh Air’ show.

David sums it up best: “Totally bizarre to hear Miles without the rasp in his voice. Miles talks about the first time he heard Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the mid-forties, and how he was captivated by the new sound – bebop.”

Listen to the interview HERE.

We’re patiently waiting for part 2.

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal – 30th edition

fijm_logoThe 30th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is upon us. Should be quite a hot scene in Montreal this year. The event runs July 1 to 12, 2009.

Of course we’re interested in who will be the 16th recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for the festival’s 15th anniversary in 1994 to honor a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom.

The wonderful McCoy Tyner was last year’s recipient. He follows a prestigious list of those given the award: Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).

Looking at the program, I know it’s going to be a grand time. Definitely peruse the festival History, a very interesting look back at the amazing acts who performed. The gallery of festival posters from each of the past 30 years is a treat. The 1991 edition is a favorite, but for a Miles Davis fan 1988 is the best.

A drawing by Miles Davis became the visual theme for the ninth edition, a self-portrait that was published by the Festival and of which 150 signed serigraphs were made available to the public. If Miles’ electrifying performance at Place des Arts will be remembered forever by all who attended the legendary trumpeter’s concert, it was Pat Metheny who got the final word on the 1988 event, pronouncing it “the best jazz festival in the world.”

Miles Davis Makes You A Better Guitarist

guitar_neckAs someone who, as a youngster, wanted to be Eddie Van Halen, I’ve always loved the guitar and guitar players – from Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan to Steve Miller, Wes Montgomery and Dickey Betts.

So here comes Wayne Brown and a fantastic post from his Wayne’s Guitar Blog titled:

Ten Miles Davis Tips for Guitarists

The article is inspired by the recent Kind of Blue at 50 panel at SXSW, which featured George Avakian, Vincent Wilburn, Jr., Erin Davis, David Fricke, moderator Ashley Kahn and Quincy Jones discussing the iconic album.

So what can guitarists learn from discussing Miles Davis and his famous recording? “A lot,” writes Wayne.

He adds: “The principals that guided Miles explain why he has been described as nanotechnology. The micro components of his music and ways can seem dissonant and counter-intuitive, but together they produce results that have fascinated music fans, musicians and scholars ever since.”

Don’t Dwell on the Past and Appreciate the Ballad are two of the ten, quite interesting, Miles Davis-inspired tips for guitar players.

Wayne also includes excellent quotes from the SXSW panel.

Guitarist or not this is a great post to check out for anyone who loves Miles Davis, or appreciates the craft of a musician. It also further illustrates the deep and far-reaching influence of Miles Davis on the creative process.

Creativity begets creativity.

A Year of Praise: The ‘Kind of Blue’ 50th Anniversary

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The 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ seminal recording, “Kind of Blue,” has provided us a tremendous, 50th-anniversary boxed set from Sony, commemorative events, special panels to converse over the album’s legacy and more ink spilled and Internet space devoted to retrospectives, analysis and appreciations about the best-selling jazz recording of all time to keep you busy reading for the remainder of the year.

The album and its amazing cast of musicians undoubtedly deserve all the attention – and then some. It’s truly one of those recordings that even non-jazz fans are aware of, and perhaps even own because the idea of having such a legendary recording in their collection is too good to pass up, they heard one of the songs somewhere, sometime and liked it enough to give it a try, or maybe it’s just fun to be part of a very (very) big group of people worldwide (and perhaps beyond!) who love “Kind of Blue.”

Between the lines of the well-deserved hullabaloo over “Kind of Blue” is the fact that many fans and critics don’t even think its Davis’ best album. Without doubt his most famous, but there are other equally essential albums in the Miles Davis catalog not to be overlooked by fans of old, or those just getting acquainted with the jazz legend.

The latest entry in the “Kind of Blue” Appreciation Society is John Edward Hasse, the curator of American Music at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, who penned an interesting appreciation/perspective in this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal on Kind of Blue’s golden anniversary (Davis’s New Burst of Freedom).

Writes Hasse: “Davis once famously said, “Don’t play what you know, play what you don’t know.” His players’ improvisations here sound clean, fresh and original, as they nimbly respond to the challenge of unfamiliar pieces and the novel organizing principle of modes. The slower chord changes, the spareness of the themes, and the economy of his and Evans’s solos all conveyed a sense of space and possibility — and thus helped open a door to a new kind of musical modernity.”

The Sartorial Splendor of Miles Davis

miles_davis88AskMen.com has a running series entitled Style Icon, where they feature a who’s-who of actors, musicians, athletes and other celebrity types for their excellent ability to look/be fashionable. It’s a list, so everybody is up for debate, but there can be no disputing Miles Davis as a Style Icon.

So we applaud AskMen.com for adding Miles to the roster. In fact, AskMen.com has a Style Icon section reserved just for jazz musicians (Jazz Style Icons), which is pretty cool. Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Evans, and Chet Baker presently make up the very cool, first foursome to this stylish list.

Writes Christian Chensvold: “In 1965, the legendary jazz critic and Esquire style writer George Frazier dubbed Miles Davis “The Warlord of the Weejuns” in the liner notes of a greatest hits collection. A hell of a nickname, even if no one knew what it meant.

“Before he got all freaky and avant-garde, Miles spent the late ’40s to mid ’60s dressed in various iterations of conservative dapperness, from the Brooks Brothers suits he wore at the time of his 1949 recording Birth of the Cool, to the slim European suits he sported for 1963’s Seven Steps to Heaven.”

Chensvold even provides a few tips if you’re thinking of following Miles’ sartorial technique: “…you can be a kingpin of cool in slim flat-front trousers hemmed with no-break, white oxford-cloth button-down patterned sports coat, and Bass’ new Dover model Weejun.”

I’ve hit on this previously, but costume design is going to play a big part in the biopic – as well it should. From the Brooks Brothers suits to the funky threads, Miles Davis always set the trends. The person tasked with costume design is going to have some fun with Don Cheadle and the cast. Good times.

‘Kind of Blue’ Gets the Harvard Treatment

kind-of-blue2 In the continuing, 50th anniversary celebration of Kind of Blue we look to the ivy-covered walls of Harvard (Harvard Business School, to be exact) for more analysis and appreciation of the Miles Davis masterpiece.

If you’ve ever wondered how Miles Davis created such a magnum opus, the answer just might be “radical simplicity,” according to Harvard Business School professor Robert D. Austin and Carl Størmer, founding principal of JazzCode, a consulting and entertainment firm specializing in improvisational collaboration and communication in high-performance teams.

“In their case, “Miles Davis: Kind of Blue”, they reflect on the beauty of the music as well as the unusual story behind its creation. And they suggest that nonmusicians—such as managers who aim to spark and sustain innovation for competitive advantage—can learn a lot of new notes from Davis’s example.”

In a Q&A well worth checking out (Kind of Blue: Pushing Boundaries with Miles Davis), Martha Lagace, senior editor of HBS Working Knowledge, explores this concept with Austin and Størmer, who provide an interesting look at the innovation, experimentation and working style Miles Davis utilized in putting together Kind of Blue.

When the Harvard Business School meets Miles Davis, get set for some rather cool intellectualizing.

Talkin’ Miles: Miles Davis, Reissued

milesdavis-1• Good news for fans of the sweet wax. Four classic Miles Davis albums – Sketches Of Spain, In A Silent Way, Nefertiti, and Bitches Brew – have been newly reissued on 180 gram vinyl LPs, which should thrill even the most astute audiophiles. (St. Louis Jazz Notes)

• The Miles Davis Movie: Better as linear or nonlinear narrative or: Deconstructing the ‘deconstructed biopic’ (Link)

• Miles Davis: Music as Emotional Instability (troubled souls unite)

• Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1969) (Video)

• Robert Irving III will present the world premiere of “Sketches of Brazil,” an orchestral homage to his mentors Miles Davis and Gil Evans, in August at Chicago’s Millennium Park. The piece commemorates the 50th anniversary of the recording of Sketches of Spain. Irving recorded and performed with Davis during the trumpeter’s comeback in the early 1980s. (St. Louis Jazz Notes)

• Have you picked up your Miles Davis skateboard yet?

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal – 30th edition

fijm_logo The 30th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is upon us. Should be quite a hot scene in Montreal this year. The event runs July 1 to 12, 2009.

Of course we’re interested in who will be the 16th recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for the festival’s 15th anniversary in 1994 to honor a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom.

The wonderful McCoy Tyner was last year’s recipient. He follows a prestigious list of those given the award: Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).

Looking at the program, I know it’s going to be a grand time. Definitely peruse the festival History, a very interesting look back at the amazing acts who performed. The gallery of festival posters from each of the past 30 years is a treat. The 1991 edition is a favorite, but for a Miles Davis fan 1988 is the best.

A drawing by Miles Davis became the visual theme for the ninth edition, a self-portrait that was published by the Festival and of which 150 signed serigraphs were made available to the public. If Miles’ electrifying performance at Place des Arts will be remembered forever by all who attended the legendary trumpeter’s concert, it was Pat Metheny who got the final word on the 1988 event, pronouncing it “the best jazz festival in the world.”

Miles Davis & Marcus Miller

Miles Davis / In Pictures

Hot Lips Page, Tommy Potter, Agent, Big Chief Moore, Sidney Bechet, Al Haig, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham (Paris 1949)
Hot Lips Page, Tommy Potter, Agent, Big Chief Moore, Sidney Bechet, Al Haig, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham (Paris 1949)

Miles Davis / In Pictures

Hot Lips Page, Tommy Potter, Agent, Big Chief Moore, Sidney Bechet, Al Haig, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham (Paris 1949)
Hot Lips Page, Tommy Potter, Agent, Big Chief Moore, Sidney Bechet, Al Haig, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham (Paris 1949)

Talkin’ Miles: Miles Davis, Reissued

miles4

• Good news for fans of the sweet wax. Four classic Miles Davis albums – Sketches Of Spain, In A Silent Way, Nefertiti, and Bitches Brew – have been newly reissued on 180 gram vinyl LPs, which should thrill even the most astute audiophiles. (St. Louis Jazz Notes)

• The Miles Davis Movie: Better as linear or nonlinear narrative or: Deconstructing the ‘deconstructed biopic’ (Link)

• Miles Davis: Music as Emotional Instability (troubled souls unite)

• Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1969) (Video)

• Robert Irving III will present the world premiere of “Sketches of Brazil,” an orchestral homage to his mentors Miles Davis and Gil Evans, in August at Chicago’s Millennium Park. The piece commemorates the 50th anniversary of the recording of Sketches of Spain. Irving recorded and performed with Davis during the trumpeter’s comeback in the early 1980s. (St. Louis Jazz Notes)

• Have you picked up your Miles Davis skateboard yet?