Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Miles Davis
"I’ve been in a Miles Davis frame of mind lately,” my friend Cory said passing me a cold Heineken. He picked up the slim infrared remote control for his Bose Wave Music System to adjust the volume. Then he flopped down on his chocolate leather Troy sofa from Crate and Barrel. Cory played Davis’ jazz fusion opus Or the Corner. I stopped by his place. I wanted him to check out the new jazz albums Moonlight by saxophonist Steve Cole and Opus One by saxophonist Shauli Einav. Cole is a smooth jazz bigwig, and Einav is an Israeli saxophonist. I liked both projects.
“I’ve been listening to some of the albums Miles recorded for Prestige,” I said taking a swig of the beer. I placed the bottle on a coaster on Cory’s glass coffee table.
“Did you see the Stanley Crouch and Mtume debate”?
“I saw it on YouTube last week. It was a good discussion.
“It’s been years since I listened to On the Corner,” Cory said.
“Mtume made some valid points. But I have to side with Stanley.”
“You believe Miles was a sellout”?
“He was all about staying current.”
“What’s wrong with that,” Cory asked.
“Rock-n-roll was popular back then, and Miles found away to capitalize on it.” I took another swig. Cory cellular phone vibrated on the coffee table. He picked it up, looked at the LD screen and put the phone down.
“I’m on Mtume side. Miles pushed musical boundaries, and the jazz fusion thing was innovative.”
“I agree with Stanley. Jazz fusion was a fad. None of those bands are around,” I said.
“Even if those bands were still around and selling records, Stanley would still knock the music. Honestly, I can’t stand that guy. He always plays the devil’s advocate. Miles was all about change.”
“Miles was about following trends. When the hip-hop thing started to gain momentum Miles jumped on that bandwagon. He made a hip-hop album. It was really ridiculous. I forgot the name of it.”
“That’s it?
“What’s wrong with him mixing things up”?
“A 60-year-old jazz icon playing hip hop, in my book, was ridiculous,” I said finishing the beer. Cory offered another. I declined.
“Mile had the right to play whatever music he wanted,” Cory said.
“Stanley pointed out that Clive Davis told Miles he needed to up his game because his records were doing poorly. That’s when Miles traded in his Brooks Brothers clothing and started wearing those outlandish rock-n-roll outfits. Miles changed because his record company pressured him to.”
“Mtume said he had many private discussions with Miles about jazz fusion. Miles simply wanted to come up with something new.”
Cory’ cell-phone vibrated again. This time he answered it. It was his daughter, Be bop. Cory grabbed my empty beer bottle, and walked into the kitchen. I heard him tell Be bop I was visiting. Then he asked when she needed to pick her up from Oakland Mall. Several minutes later, Cory asked if I wanted to ride with him. We could finish our discussion, and listen to Cole and Einav me album in the car.
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