Saturday, May 28, 2016

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
90 years of Miles Davis

The 90th anniversary of Miles Davis' birth was this past Thursday, May 26, and although StLJN shared a variety of tributes from others on social media, there was no "happy birthday" post here that day as in many years past, for a couple of reasons.

First, the "Miles On Monday" feature, which has been a fixture here for more than a year now, serves as a regular tribute to the trumpeter every week. (And in case you missed them, some of those birthday items shared this week definitely will be linked and/or summarized in this coming Monday's post.)

Second, and more important, is that the plan all along was to mark 90 years of Miles Davis with today's video post, which contains some of yr. editor's favorite performances from various stages of his career that are available as online videos. There are nine videos in all, one for each decade since Davis' birth.

The first, embedded up above the text, is the by-now-at-least semi-famous live version of "So What," the leadoff track from Kind of Blue, seen here as recorded by Davis and his quintet for the 1959 TV special The Sound of Miles Davis.

After the jump, you can see Davis and the Gil Evans Orchestra performing "The Duke" and "Blues for Pablo" from that same TV special.

The next two clips show Davis' so-called "Second Great Quintet" - with Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums) and Ron Carter (bass) - in 1967, performing "I Fall In Love Too Easily" in Karlsruhe, Germany, and then doing "Footprints" in Stockholm, Sweden.

Davis was on the precipice of his "electric period" at that point, and in the next clip, a full set recorded in 1969 in Copenhagen, you can see him taking the leap with help from Shorter plus Chick Corea (keyboards), Dave Holland (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums).

This relatively short-lived band, which years later was dubbed the "Lost Quintet," led directly to the group seen in the next video, an entire set recorded on August 18, 1970 at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, MA. The band here is Davis, Corea, Holland and DeJohnette along with Gary Bartz (alto and soprano sax), Keith Jarrett on organ, and Airto Moreira on percussion, and at this point, Miles has gone full-on electric.

By the time the seventh clip was recorded, in 1973 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Davis had changed the entire band again, and the version of "Ife" offers an even more jagged soundscape than the previous clip, courtesy of David Liebman (soprano sax), Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion), Reggie Lucas (guitar), Michael Henderson (bass), Mtume (congas, percussion), and Al Foster (drums).

The final two videos are both from the 1980s, well after Davis' comeback from the period of self-imposed exile in which Don Cheadle's film Miles Ahead is set. "Time After Time," Davis' cover of a hit originally recorded by Cyndi Lauper, was a staple of his live sets for several years, and is heard here in a version recorded in 1975 in Tokyo, Japan.

The last clip is a version of "Tutu," recorded in 1988 in Stuttgart, Germany, which unfortunately does not feature Marcus Miller, the song's composer and producer of the album of the same name. But it does show off one of Davis' more interesting and idiosyncratic late-period bands, with Kenny Garrett on saxophone and flute, Robert Irving III and Adam Holzmann on keyboards, Joseph "Foley" McCreary on six-string "lead bass" plus Benjamin Rietveld on electric bass, percussionist Marilyn Mazur, and the great drummer Ricky Wellman, who Davis plucked from Washington DC go-go godfather Chuck Brown's band, the Soul Searchers.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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