I have been fortunate – thus far – to have avoided the many summer colds going around this season, but I have been afflicted, once again, by “Miles Fever.” Every so often, I am struck by an irresistible urge to dig into the catalog of this artist so present during virtually every season of my life, and rediscover the thrill of his sound, and of his cultural significance.
I contracted the virus this morning, and spent the morning (in bed, of course) listening to Miles Ahead, the 1957 recording featuring Miles Davis and 19 musicians under the direction of Gil Evans – his first collaboration with Miles since the Birth of the Cool sessions of 1950, and one of his earliest recordings for Columbia Records. An early example of
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An early interview I conducted as publisher of Jerry Jazz Musician was with Stephanie Stein Crease, whose 2002 biography of Gil Evans, Out of the Cool, was an illuminating history of a man the jazz writer Gary Giddins refers to as “one of the great figures in American music, a composer and orchestrator of breathtaking originality.”
In the interview, Crease talks of Evans’ life as having
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“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition describes the early friendship and collaboration of Miles Davis and composer/arranger Gil Evans, who Miles once described as “the greatest musician in the world.”
Excerpted from Castles Made of Sound: The Story of Gil Evans,
by Larry Hicock
“I first met Gil when I was with Bird,” Miles told Marc Crawford in a 1961 interview for Down Beat.
He was asking for a release on my tune, “Donna Lee.”…I told him he could have it and asked him to teach me some chords and let me study some of the scores he was doing for Claude Thornhill.
He really flipped o me on the arrangement of “Robbin’s Nest” he did for Claude. See, Gil had this cluster of chords and superimposed another cluster over […] Continue reading »
Paul Chambers, the bassist on many of Miles Davis’ most important recordings — including all that Gil Evans and Miles Davis collaborated on — fulfilled, according to Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Gil Evans: Out of the Cool, “an important role in Gil’s writing. The bass provided a harmonic color base as well as a rhythmic one, a foundation for the shifting polyrhythms among the brass and woodwinds.”
Here is what Evans said about Chambers:
“There was nobody ever before or after Paul Chambers, he was such a glorious player. When he played up-tempo it was never the least bit choppy – he could hang onto the preceding note as long as possible before the next […] Continue reading »
More than half a century after his bebop debut, and more than eleven years after his death, Miles Davis lives on. His music is used to pitch jeans, shape films, and personify an era. To this day, he is revered as the archetype of cool.
While several books have been written about Davis, including his own autobiography, due to his passion for reinvention and his extreme reticence the real story of Miles Davis has been obscured by the legend and widely misunderstood. […] Continue reading »
When Stephanie Stein Crease was a child, and her older brother started bringing home records by Gil Evans and Miles Davis, her world turned. Fascinated by the colorful orchestrations found on Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, recorded between 1957 and 1960, Crease began a life long affair with the music of Evans, a man noted critic Gary Giddins has called “one of the great figures in American music.” Gil Evans, Out of the Cool, is a culmination of her fascination of and appreciation for the work of Gil Evans. […] Continue reading »