Musicians about Miles Davis

Alexander, Monty
Blanchard, Terence
Bruce, Jack
Carrothers, Bill
Corea, Chick
De Francesco, Joey
Garrett, Kenny
Hamilton, Chico
Holland, Dave
Marsalis, Branford
McBride, Christian
Mehldau, Brad
Metheny, Pat
Sandoval, Arturo

Monty Alexander

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued November 2002)

Fred: "Audience involvement is more often associated with Latin jazz and not the jazz of Miles Davis, who was infamous for turning his back to the crowd."

Monty: "That is my natural tendency as a person with music. I guess if I tried to analyze it, I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity to make music and I just love every note I play unless I'm having a terrible, terrible, bad day, every note I play is a moment to rejoice that I'm alive and that's how I feel. I dig Miles Davis very much. I knew the man and I was fascinated with his whole mysterious kind of thing and I think he was just a very, very complex guy, who when he played his music, it was fascinating and you felt the talent and the genius of the man, but it was not his nature to smile with you. It was a very brutish kind of personality and I'm just going along with my personality. My personality is one that is more, I don't have problems smiling with people and that's what I do with music. I want to smile."

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Terence Blanchard

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued May 1999)

... I always looked up to Miles Davis. Miles Davis and Clifford Brown were the guys for me. ... Well, when I first heard Miles, I was just in awe of the simplicity that he played with and how powerful it was. ...

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Jack Bruce

interviewed by David R. Adler for All About Jazz (June 2001)

Jack: "... I was very influenced by some of the late Miles Davis concerts that I saw in Europe. It's kind of different if you're playing in a straight rock band - you play a song, you finish. That's nice, but I want to get this mood thing going. I'm really excited about the live performances. I think it's gonna take it to another level."

David: "When you say "late" Miles, when do you mean exactly?"

Jack: "In the 80s, when he came back. I saw him in Frankfurt, at one of his early resurgence concerts, the band with Mike Stern and so on. I always loved Miles, of course, I'm not alone. I got to know him a little bit when I was with Lifetime. He was very encouraging to me. But to see him come back and reinvent himself, it was just fantastic. A lot of people have problems with that period, but I have no problems with it."

David: "It was unlike anything that anyone had done before…"

Jack: "Absolutely. Seeing him at those large European jazz festivals, it was pretty amazing - some of the best music I've ever heard. And a big influence on me, not necessarily musically, but in terms of the approach."

David: "It's really about putting on a show…"

Jack: "Yeah, that excites me. The fact that instead of playing a song, waiting for applause, and so on, the whole concert almost becomes a piece in itself, like a composition. So I'm gonna have a bash at that." [Laughs.]

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Bill Carrothers

interviewed by R.J. DeLuke for All About Jazz (issued March 2002)

"And then there was Miles.
Peterson told me to go get that Greatest Hits one, the one with Miles on the cover with the turtleneck looking all pissed off. That was one of the first Miles Davis records I ever owned. And I remember putting that on my parents' record player. I couldn't get enough of it. I wore it out. I listened to it 100 times. I'd never heard anything like that before. My dad's stuff that he played was all a lot bouncier and kind bop-oriented, and Dixieland oriented, and then you hear Miles playing 'My Funny Valentine' and I just didn't know what to make of it. But I loved it. I remember the feeling. I remember exactly where I was sitting and how I felt as a 14-year-old listening to that shit. That record was a real eye-opener to me. I went out after that and bought the two concerts that made up some of that stuff. Four And More and My Funny Valentine and I wore those out. Tony Williams' playing on that stuff is just unbelievable. I could listen to Tony play all day, every day. I have a drum set in my basement. If I could just tap into one-tenth of one percent of what that guys does with the drums, I would be a happy man."

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Chick Corea

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (August 1999)

Fred: "What do you remember most about Miles?"

Chick: "So many things. Miles's motto was very inspirational. Many that he, I think Miles approached things in a way that most great musicians, I think, approach things, not a whole lot different, which is the fact that Miles was never worried about or concerned about authorities in music or critics or what other people thought. He always had a complete integrity about following through on whatever idea he had he wanted to try out. The band I was in, he was trying out some ideas that, it's not only my opinion, but it seems like what others consider as pretty far out. Some of the stuff was, seemed at the time like it was going nowhere. There was a lot of free improvisation and apparent chaos, but within that there was an incredible finding of new things and discovery of ways to communicate with small group jazz that I think were, when you listen to those quintet recordings now, you can tell. They hold my interest anyway, not just because I was in the band, but because of what kind of new ideas were being formed, and the strength and commitment of Miles's playing and the group's playing around that time. His integrity was definitely a huge inspiration and just the way he operated with groups has set an ideal with me, which is that when he chose musicians to be in his band, I think that was the main choice he made, was who would be there. After he set a musical direction, he pretty much left it up to the musicians that he chose to create the content and the harmonies and the rhythms of the music. He didn't dictate to us how to play the music, which invariably set off an atmosphere where everyone was very acknowledged creatively. Whatever offerings we made, Miles accepted as part of the music and I think that was a very great strength."

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Joey De Francesco

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (February 2000)

Fred: "You mentioned Miles Davis, whom you collaborated with when you were quite young."

Joey: "Sure, my recollection of that whole thing, really would sum it all up, Miles was a wonderful, wonderful guy. I had a great relationship with him. He was cool, a nice man, very gentle, quiet guy. It might sound surprising to a lot of people, but that's really what I got out of the time that I spent with him. It invited me to do a tour of Europe with him, 1988, fall of '88. I toured with him for six months with his group. Unfortunately, at that time, my first record came out with Columbia and they wanted me to tour to promote that, so I kind of had to leave Miles. But we remained good friends all the way up until he died in '91. Playing with him was great. You learn how to play the right thing, knowing that everything he plays is going to come out and sound good. It takes time to learn that and get your own sound, to not play as many notes, although I'm not past that stage yet."

Fred: "It sounds as though his impact on your musical direction was quite significant?"

Joey: "Yeah, definitely, just because of listening to him play and just the conversations I used to have with him. I was a Miles fan before I played with him. But when you start hanging around the guy, you become more of a fan. You really start digging deep and listening to his music and all the different pieces that he's created over the past forty years, fifty years really. You start realizing how much stuff you have to learn and when you start listening to that music, you learn more things. I had the advantage through playing with him to ask him questions about the music that he did. He was always very gracious in answering. As much as he thought that you can't go back and play that way and all that, you know, that was his favorite stuff. All he talked about was the old days and that music. Miles always played his way too. He just changed his surroundings."

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Kenny Garrett

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued April 2003)

Fred: "...I don't want to buck the trend. In the Kenny Garrett dictionary, what is the definition of Miles Davis?"

Kenny: "He is basically this person who did what he wanted to do musically. He was just being defiant about what he believed in and I think during that time, no one was doing that. He was pretty adamant that that is what he wanted to do regardless of what people said..."

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Chico Hamilton

interviewed by Chris M. Slawecki for All About Jazz (issued February 2003)

Chris: "...When you close your eyes and think about him, what are your thoughts of Miles Davis? "

Chico: "Miles was…we were friends, man, we were good friends. We weren't on the phone every day or that type of thing, but I had a tremendous amount of respect for him and he had a tremendous amount of respect for me. We dug each other, you know? As a matter of fact, when I first came to New York, he was one of the first guys that I met. Max Roach introduced me to Miles, when Miles was playing on 52nd street. This was in 1946. To me, Miles wasn't a trumpet player, man. I consider Miles…Miles was a sound. You understand that? He was a sound, man, a once in a lifetime kind of sound that comes your way. ."

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Dave Holland

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued October 1999)

Fred: "There has been so much written about Miles, you were in a unique position to view his genius, should he have been so maligned?"

Dave: "My personal experience was wonderful. I can only say that for a young musician of twenty-one, joining Miles's band when I did and being able to observe this great artist and the process that he used in putting his music together, gave me some terrific direction and guidance in terms of just watching and observing. Miles wasn't a man of many words in terms of discussing the music or talking about it in concrete terms, going into long explanations of what he wanted and so on. He worked very much with the concepts that the musicians themselves came to the table with. This is why he's such a great leader. He took the natural creative energies of the players that he brought into his band and molded them to the purposes that he saw to be possible. On a personal level, I was very young and America was a new situation for me to move to and he was very kind to me and very generous in the sense that he spent time with me. He invited me to his house. He would cook meals and discuss all kinds of things. To me, he really reached out and made me feel welcome and comfortable."

Fred: "Many of the recordings that you made with Miles are considered landmark recordings ("Bitches Brew" and "In a Silent Way"), what is it about those albums that sets them apart?"

Dave: "Well, I think they represented a serious step in the development of jazz music or improvised music. It's very difficult to use "jazz" in a meaningful way at the moment because it covers such a broad ground of music. You say "jazz" to some people and they think Louis Armstrong and other people think John Coltrane and other people think Kenny G, so it's a fairly broadly used word. Miles was in constant movement in his music and of course these two records are only two out of a countless number of records that Miles has made in his life that represented groundbreaking approaches to the improvised setting for the music. These records, I think, incorporated many of the contemporary rhythms and feels at the time and a looseness in the improvising and development of the pieces that was also coming out of the way improvised music was being played. Miles had, as usual, a wonderful vision of how all those things could come together. "

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Branford Marsalis

interviewed by Russ Musto for All About Jazz (posted January 12, 2005)

Russ: "I mean by having the real work going into choosing who's going to be on the label rather than choosing someone and having to go in and make them into something."

Branford: "Oh, you know I can do that. I've done it. I've done it; I don't have any problems doing that. That's one of those things that... one of the things that I loved about listening to Miles Davis is that Miles always had an instinct for which musicians were great for what situations. He could always pick a band and that was the thing that separated him from everybody else. I used to check out Quincy Jones records for the same reason. You listen to a Michael Jackson record that Quincy Jones produced, there'd be like twenty-five musicians on it, but every musician that he used was perfect for the songs he used them for. I kind of have that instinct, but in jazz I don't think that that really helps. I don't think that that should be the goal. I think that the musicians should have a sense of what they want to do."

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Christian McBride

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued May 2003)

"...I think the biggest thing I have learned is great bandleaders let guys in their band be themselves. What good is it to hire a really great piano player or great sax player if you are going to order him around and tell him what to play all the time? Then you don't really get the energy that made you want to hire that person. I have been in situations where some guys will hire somebody and they say that they want you to do this and do that and they end up sounding just like the guy that they fired. There is no change. I think Miles proved that. He was the greatest bandleader of all time because he let guys be who they were. He gave just enough instruction that he got what he wanted out of them, but they didn't lose their own identity. And that is the key to being a great bandleader..."

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Brad Mehldau

interviewed by Fred Jung for All About Jazz (issued ?)

Brad: "...I have probably been influenced by horn players and different instruments, just as much as piano."

Fred: "Who were some of these horn players?"

Brad: "Definitely Miles, early on, and always for a sense of melody or phrasing, ..."

Brad: "...Those are my favorite albums, Miles Davis at the Plugged Nickel or Blackhawk or Coltrane at Birdland, where you hear them getting into that place they get when they're allowed to stretch out and there's no constraints. The music gets transcendental for me..."

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Pat Metheny

interviewed by David Okamoto for Jazziz (September 1992)

"My definition of success is Miles Davis. He never made a bad record. Every note he played had his own stamp on it. You can hear that he played just what he wanted to play and was searching within himself to find what satisfied him as a listener. He is the most successful musician I've ever seen. Maybe Bach would be in that same zone. They both had an amazingly high success rate in terms of creatively setting up situations and really filling them to the highest level."


interviewed by Allen Huotari for All About Jazz (issued April 2001)

"The power of the moment is what it is all about, and the materials that you use to fill those moments are ultimately less significant that the spirit in which they are offered. To me, the ultimate example of this would be Miles Davis: a musician who in terms of vocabulary certainly had his zone--but he made each note absolutely vital each time out."

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Arturo Sandoval

interviewed by Chris M. Slawecki for All About Jazz (September 2000)

"How would you explain to someone the playing of Miles Davis?"

"Miles Davis was a very intelligent musician. He started playing bebop, that was his beginning although he really started in the '40s. He realized that there was a bunch of people around him who could play that music a lot better than him. So he decided to explore and started to play something different, a different approach, of playing a different way. That was a very intelligent move. It was a unique kind of playing. He was always surrounded by the greatest musicians as well, which was very intelligent too. He influenced so many, many people. I think he's one of a kind."

"Did he influence you and if so how?"

"Oh, he influenced every trumpet player. I think, whoever plays trumpet, you must have in the back of your mind Miles Davis and others like Harry James and Bunny Berrigan and Bix Biederbecke and Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. All those people influenced every trumpet player."


maintained by hepcat1950 TOP last update: January 26, 2005