Miles Davis in 1967: what am I missing?

ferrinbonn

Member
Messages
1,683
I was on a plane yesterday and they had the full performance of this Miles Davis show from 1967 so I decided to give it a watch. I'm not a fan of jazz in general but every once in a while I've tried to give it a go to get a better understanding of the genre.

I've got to say, I didn't get this type of jazz at all. Especially in the fast sections they didn't even seem to try to stay in time with each other. It was difficult to tell the chord changes or to follow any sort of motifs that were being developed. It reminded me of when a group of musicians are in a room together and everybody is just noodling a bunch of different stuff at the same time.

Not to mention the number of notes! People slam guitar shredders all the time on for just playing super fast runs one after another and they seemed to do tons of that in this performance.

This isn't a dig at Miles Davis or his music. As I said, I'm not very familiar with the nuance of jazz in general. Is this just not "starter jazz"? For those who are really into this style, what is it about a performance like this that sets it apart for you?
 

andrekp

Member
Messages
7,700
I don’t know the performance in question, offhand, but it’s Miles. He is only ever surrounded by top notch guys. But he is also genre bending on many occasions. It’s far safer bet that you just don’t like it, than that it is bad. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of hardcore jazz fans hated some of the things Miles did.
 

PB+J

Member
Messages
2,178
I was on a plane yesterday and they had the full performance of this Miles Davis show from 1967 so I decided to give it a watch. I'm not a fan of jazz in general but every once in a while I've tried to give it a go to get a better understanding of the genre.

I've got to say, I didn't get this type of jazz at all. Especially in the fast sections they didn't even seem to try to stay in time with each other. It was difficult to tell the chord changes or to follow any sort of motifs that were being developed. It reminded me of when a group of musicians are in a room together and everybody is just noodling a bunch of different stuff at the same time.

Not to mention the number of notes! People slam guitar shredders all the time on for just playing super fast runs one after another and they seemed to do tons of that in this performance.

This isn't a dig at Miles Davis or his music. As I said, I'm not very familiar with the nuance of jazz in general. Is this just not "starter jazz"? For those who are really into this style, what is it about a performance like this that sets it apart for you?
You don't have to like it! Miles had a lot of phases. In general like a lot of jazz musicians at the time he was looking for ways to escape formal constraints. He came up in BeBop, which is fiercely tied to diatonic harmony, and then he pioneered modal jazz, where there are few chords and you are improvising on a single mode. Also everybody was dong a lot of drugs.

Personally I don't like jazz when it gets to far from a harmonic framework, but I can understand when you've studied something intensely you want to escape the rules
 

TheSchwartz

Member
Messages
940
I was on a plane yesterday and they had the full performance of this Miles Davis show from 1967 so I decided to give it a watch. I'm not a fan of jazz in general but every once in a while I've tried to give it a go to get a better understanding of the genre.

I've got to say, I didn't get this type of jazz at all. Especially in the fast sections they didn't even seem to try to stay in time with each other. It was difficult to tell the chord changes or to follow any sort of motifs that were being developed. It reminded me of when a group of musicians are in a room together and everybody is just noodling a bunch of different stuff at the same time.

Not to mention the number of notes! People slam guitar shredders all the time on for just playing super fast runs one after another and they seemed to do tons of that in this performance.

This isn't a dig at Miles Davis or his music. As I said, I'm not very familiar with the nuance of jazz in general. Is this just not "starter jazz"? For those who are really into this style, what is it about a performance like this that sets it apart for you?
What kind of music are you normally into? There are a lot of pathways into jazz that aren’t strictly straight-ahead.
 

wombat66

Member
Messages
4,178
I don’t know the performance in question, offhand, but it’s Miles...
I watched the vid linked to the textlink in the OP's first sentence. It's two short clips of Miles soloing over drums, bass and piano somewhere on the band's 1967 European tour. It was probably from one of these shows or something very similar:





The band is Miles Davis, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter. It's adventurous jazz but they are not playing way out like Ornette Coleman or later day Coltrane. This band was pretty much state of the art jazz for it's day (probably why Miles got bored with it a year later).
I can't explain the aesthetic pleasures of jazz. But this is the good stuff.
 

twoheadedboy

Member
Messages
15,317
The late 60s and early 70s was a very modal and improvisational period for Miles. Lots of jamming, not a lot of prearranged structure. Sometimes it worked better than others. At this point, he was straining at the edge of jazz, and wanting go move into new territory, which he did in the next few years. In the 70s, he continued to use the loose, improvisational approach, but the material was barely jazz.

 
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jabromusic

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,830
You have to understand that this was a groundbreaking band at the time and they were really pushing the musical envelope. If you're not really a big jazz fan and have only heard Kind Of Blue or Sketches of Spain then I can see how this would be really challenging to listen to. They were playing free inside of forms (unlike Ornette Coleman who was playing free altogether). I would recommend checking out the studio albums that this band recorded first (E.S.P., The Sorcerer, Miles Smiles, Nefertiti, etc...) because it's a bit more concise and digestible.
 

deytookerjaabs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,655
Nothing wrong with not hearing or feeling it.

I couldn't either, at all. When I was 16 and starting getting into Jazz it just was like a wash of notes & sounds. I figured, either they're just playing some BS or I'm the one who doesn't "get it." I grew up in a house the played AC/DC & The Eagles as recreational listening. Those deep pockets & changes & melodies didn't hit.

So? I took all my CD's and hid them from myself. For years I only listened to Jazz, went through my snob period too because if I didn't it wouldn't be like the boot camp it needed to be.

One day I woke up and listening to anything with Tony Williams had more feel in it than most other music ever even attempted to cover. It just clicked.
 

ElvisNixonBand

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
698
I would say that Miles in that stage of his career is not “starter jazz”. Neither is Thelonious Monk. Every person reacts differently so a big YMMV on my statement.

My jazz guitar playing jazz snob father introduced young electric guitar rocker me to jazz via Wes Montgomery. It worked. I could figure out the octave style and at least participate and play along to the record and hum the melodies.

I don’t know the OP’s instrument, musical influences, experience, or tastes, so again, just my .02
 

Kurt L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,792
Miles Davis was very different across various phases of his career.

I prefer his music with the first quintet. Maybe check out the albums called Cookin’, Steamin’, Workin’, and Relaxin’.

It’s funny. They cranked out those albums very quickly to get out of a recording contract but they’re really good.

I also really like a soundtrack he recorded for a French film called Elevator to the Gallows. He recorded lots of short mood pieces, great stuff.

I’m no jazz expert but that’s what I would recommend as a Miles Davis starter pack.

P.S. His autobiography is a fun read!

P.P.S. If you have Netflix check out a film called Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool. Very good documentary.
 
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Bob H.

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
127
I was on a plane yesterday and they had the full performance of this Miles Davis show from 1967 so I decided to give it a watch. I'm not a fan of jazz in general but every once in a while I've tried to give it a go to get a better understanding of the genre.

I've got to say, I didn't get this type of jazz at all. Especially in the fast sections they didn't even seem to try to stay in time with each other. It was difficult to tell the chord changes or to follow any sort of motifs that were being developed. It reminded me of when a group of musicians are in a room together and everybody is just noodling a bunch of different stuff at the same time.

Not to mention the number of notes! People slam guitar shredders all the time on for just playing super fast runs one after another and they seemed to do tons of that in this performance.

This isn't a dig at Miles Davis or his music. As I said, I'm not very familiar with the nuance of jazz in general. Is this just not "starter jazz"? For those who are really into this style, what is it about a performance like this that sets it apart for you?
I'll make a suggestion: plug your guitar in (I'm making an assumption here - if it's another instrument, grab it) and feel what they're doing and play along. Just play. Even a few notes here and there. And give it some time, if your willing. You may be amazed at what happens...to you.
 



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