Sep 28, 2014

Miles Davis

I was very happy to have found out there is a free museum day in my fair city. From the moment I heard that, I knew I was going to do what I could to see the We Want Miles Exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.

I missed the 2009 Miles Davis CMJ Panel Discussion and the closest I came to it was grabbing remastered copies of Kind Of Blue & Sketches of Spain CDs they were giving away afterwards. When I first heard the Miles Davis exhibit was coming to Montreal, I vowed I’d see it. All I needed was the proper motivation to get myself to the museum.

Free museum day must not have been a secret because the streets near the Musee were packed with people. Luckily I didn’t have long to wait to be let into the exhibit. The history and legend of Miles Davis hit me immediately. From viewing his family heirlooms and memorabilia, I realized how important Miles was to music.

The 1950s Miles memorabilia got my imagination working. There was a photo of him with actress Jeanne Moreau while they were in France. I only recently became aware of her as an important French actress, only to see them in a photo together.

There was another Miles photo that got me thinking. There was a series of photos of him on stage with another musician. In one photo, he’s smiling while the other plays but in another, he’s blocking his ears. I must remember to research what happened in those photos to get the full story. I should have asked the panelists when I had the chance.

The 1960s Miles artifacts blew my mind even more. I saw video footage of him performing with Herbie Hancock! I have a lot of respect for Herbie Hancock and see him as a musical innovator but it was Miles who was the true innovator. I also saw a Miles Davis 7” single at the exhibit when I didn’t think they existed.

To hear and see footage as well as album covers from Miles’ electronic period made it even more clear he was a jazz giant. The Bitches Brew album cover is one of the most artistic I’ve ever seen but the Live-Evil takes it to a higher level.

For some reason I could identify with his hiatus in the mid-70s. I can understand him taking a step back from his years of being at the musical forefront. His being strung out from drugs at the time didn’t help matters either. There was a photo of him during that period where it looked like he was truly in a dark place.

I was a bit too young to know or care about his 1980s comeback. All I knew was this old jazz trumpeter was presumably important if Quincy Jones and a lot of musicians worked with him before he died. It would take my 20s to start exploring jazz and coming face to face with Miles Davis again to have more respect for him as a musician.

The Bitches Brew CMJ Panel Discussion was early in the morning but I wanted to learn a bit more about Miles and the album. It was surreal to hear Lenny White, an artist I know even less about than Miles, recount stories about his time with Miles. White gave an extra dimension to the Miles mythology, making me not only want to learn more about Miles but Lenny himself.

If you haven't already, please make yourself familiar with the link below for more of your favorite show and mine.

Below is the podcast of the Birthday Celebration to bring you up to speed if you missed the live broadcast. Click here to download it and more.

DJ Solespin 2014 Birthday Celebration Playlist:

1. The Rascals - Adrian's Birthday 
2. Super Eagles - Love's A Real Thing 
3. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity - Let The Sunshine In 
4. The Flaming Ember - Westbound #9 
5. Kool & The Gang - Rated X 
6. War - Me & Baby Brother 
7. Miles Davis - Spanish Key 
8. The Equals - Laurel & Hardy 
9. The Temptations - (I Know) I'm Losing You 
10. Johnnie Taylor - (I Wanna) Testify 
11. Hokis Pokis - Nowhere 
12. Rare Earth - I Just Want To Celebrate 
13. Bob James - Nautilus

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