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

Talkin’ Miles: Art, Stocks and Tributes


• The Missouri History Museum and Jazz St. Louis are teaming up to present a 50th anniversary tribute to Miles Davis’ classic album Kind of Blue at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, May 7 in the Museum’s MacDermott Grand Hall. The tribute concert will feature JSL director of education Phil Dunlap and the Legacy Jazz Quintet performing and discussing selections from Kind of Blue. Admission is free and open to the public. (St. Louis Jazz Notes)

• An appreciation of Miles Davis Quintet w/ John Coltrane – Live at the Olympia 1960 (The KingCake Krypt)

• Miles Davis Biopic stock — down!

• Miles Davis, Tokyo 1973 (YouTube)

• Take a look at the art of Miles Davis

(‘Talkin’ Miles’ is the hastily made up name for a new series that might or might not work. We’ll see.)

Mad Love for Miles Davis (courtesy of Q-Tip)

Noisemakers w/ Peter Rosenberg f/ QTip: Watch Q-Tip discuss how he was supposed to work with the legendary Miles Davis…

Talkin’ Miles: Back to funky 1975

davis-office Daniel Thomas MacInnes of videogames of the DAMNED has written a nice post about Agartha and Pangaea – two of Miles Davis’ more, how shall we say, intense, recordings from his jazz-funk fusion era. Daniel offers up some very cool photos of the rare vinyl lp version of Pangaea, which was released only in 1977 in Japan.

(‘Talkin’ Miles’ is the hastily made up name for a new series that might or might not work. We’ll see.)

Miles Davis reference on “Lost” will not go unnoticed!

milesdavis-1 I’m a big fan of Lost. Not a mega fan who spends hours deciphering each scene for some hidden meaning (though I do enjoy reading about the crazy stuff the cool, mega fans unearth!), but a dedicated watcher nevertheless.

So during Wednesday night’s entertaining episode, “Some Like It Hoth,” there was a moment when Miles Davis’ name was mentioned in conversation. For me, that’s cool. I always take note when Miles Davis pops up in, well, pop culture. There is a character named Miles on the show, and we finally get around to hearing one of the other characters ask Miles’ dad if he was a big fan of the jazz icon to name his son after him. That’s it. Just had to point it out. It’s what I do.

Of the numerous, post-game reviews of Lost episodes on the web (and Lord knows I need the deeper analysis to keep up), one of my favorites is located at The House Next Door.

Miles Davis Quintet, Stockholm 1968

Gingerbread Boy



‘Round Midnight

Miles Davis Quintet, Stockholm 1968

Miles Davis – Trumpet
Wayne Shorter – tenor sax
Tony Williams – drums
Herbie Hancock – piano
Ron Carter – bass

‘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.

The Sartorial Splendor of Miles Davis

© Copyright, Miles Davis - Credit: Columbia Records
© Copyright, Miles Davis - Credit: Columbia Records
AskMen.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.

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


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.”

Miles Davis Makes You A Better Guitarist

guitar_neck As 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.

Miles Davis, Quite Quotable

directions-miles-davis_9d3c15f2 I enjoy Doug Ramsey’s Blog (Rifftides) quite a lot, and today he’s been kind of enough to post some rather excellent quotes from Miles Davis.

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing? *

don-style Traitor is set for release in the UK this week so Don Cheadle is doing some press to promote the crime-thriller. This easy-breezy interview from the Daily Mail focuses on the actor’s sartorial preferences.

Did you know that Don Cheadle owns a lot of hats?

“I have a Sixties-style soft pork-pie hat and a panama straw hat with a small snap brim. There’s even a shot of me wearing a cowboy hat.”

* when he’s not working on the Miles Davis biopic

Listen… to Miles Davis

miles9 Via 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.

Miles Davis @ SXSW (postscript)

coolest_pic_ever Pictured: George Avakian, Quincy Jones, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and Erin Davis.

Yesterday at SXSW was the big Kind of Blue @ 50 panel. The above photo comes courtesy Linda Park (great photo, LP).

Writes Linda: “Today’s Kind of Blue at 50 panel reminded me of the best parts of Davis. It was full of musical education, once in a lifetime stories and a reminder of the rich history that brings us all together here at ye olde SXSW.

When Quincy Jones joined in as the talk was nearly over and proceeded to do impressions of Miles asking Herbie Hancock if he liked his new shoes (an example of their onstage banter) and telling Jones “Everybody knows that’s my shit,” when he asked him to sign a painting, it was just… totally bananas. The back and forth dialogue between him and legendary jazz producer George Avakian, who turned 90 this week was a total delight… one of those rare and special SXSW moments that appear like magic… you can’t believe your eyes… but here’s the photographic proof.”

Ken Shane from PopDose (a great site, btw) also stopped by the panel: “The panel, particularly Avakian and Fricke, provided some stellar insights into Miles and his artistic process. At one point, Quincy Jones appeared in the back of the room, and was invited onstage. He had a very close relationship with Miles, and provided some wonderful, and often humorous memories of the jazz great.”

I’m sure it was a great event. I was definitely there in spirit.