Monday, July 20, 2015

Miles on Monday: Another Memorial Project update, plus reviews of Newport box set

Miles Davis at the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival
This week in Miles Davis-related news, there's another update from the Miles Davis Memorial Project, plus a bunch of reviews of the newly released box set Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975:

* The Memorial Project reports that work has been completed on the plaza on Third St. in downtown Alton, IL where a statue of Davis will be installed in September. You can see pictures of the site on Facebook.

* Keying on the release of the Miles Davis at Newport box set, Minnesota Public Radio highlighted what proved to be an important comeback performance for Davis with Thelonious Monk at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival.

Meanwhile, at the Newport Jazz Festival's home in Rhode Island, Zeke Wright of the Newport Mercury offered an overview of the plans to celebrate Davis at this year's event with special events and musical tributes.

* As for the reviews of the Newport box set, which officialy came out last Friday, they're largely positive so far. The Seattle Times' Paul de Barros calls the set "a delight," while John Fordham of The Guardian (UK) says it's "coolly swinging" and "typically classy."

Writing for the New York Daily News, Jim Farber says the set "does more than most such boxes to prove the planetary breadth of Miles’ work," while Will Layman of PopMatters contrasts Davis' music with a half-dozen recent releases showing his influence, stating that "the legacy of Miles’s late period is not a single style or a subset of musicians. Miles Davis was simply too big for that...Jazz, a beautiful living thing that evolves, will carry Davis in its DNA forever."

In other reviews, Greg Tate of Rolling Stone noted, "'I'll play it first and tell you what it is later,' Davis used to say. Well, then, how soon is now?"; and Peter Jones of London Jazz News says that "even completists will surely be satiated by the Bootleg series as a whole," while observing that "the long gap between 1958 and 1966 means no Gil Evans and no Kind Of Blue, which for many will mean there is nothing to represent Miles’ most melodic period."

Lastly, while noting that "like many such releases involving a titanically influential heritage act, the music is basically unassailable," Chris Barton of Los Angeles Times wonders if the Davis estate has hit the point of diminishing returns in an article headlined "'Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975': How many Miles do we have left?"

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