I have to confess that…well…I’m not a big fan of this posting’s subject, Miles Davis. In all fairness, I should mention that I came a little late to the party, in terms of having an appreciation of any trumpeters. In my early years of listening to jazz, I leaned more toward the reeds – especially sax and clarinet.
I played the latter in a couple of different school bands and took lessons for years. Can you guess which one’s me?
(Odd side note: when I tried to pick up a clarinet and play it many years later, I found that I was totally lost. Couldn’t play a note, couldn’t even read music. Wouldn’t you think something like that would be – you know – like learning to ride a bicycle or something?)
I had nothing in particular against trumpet-playing jazzmen, just didn’t notice them that much. I thought Betty Grable was married to one – Harry something or the other – and I knew Louie Armstrong played the horn, but I thought of him as the guy who always was wiping sweat off of his face with that darn white hanky. How was I to know he was one of the most important artists in the history of jazz?
As time passed and my musical tastes matured (and my hairline receded) I began to listen a little closer, and discovered that some of the brass section’s stuff wasn’t half bad…trombones had a nice mellow sound and hey, trumpets could sound pretty good too!
Davis was a major influence in the world of jazz from the 1940s to the 1990s – a stretch of almost 50 years – and was always pushing the envelope, striving for something new. His distinctive lyrical style was not to the taste of some (including me most of the time) but none could deny his talent and drive, and his quest for innovation.
We’ve selected a couple of the tunes from the Columbia Jazz Masterpiece series, a double album called The Jazz Masters. First up is a familiar classic, but one that might sound a little different to you as it’s played in Davis’ unique style – from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Summertime.
We follow that up with something a little different. This one really shows a different side to Davis. It’s called The Pan Piper.