Miles Davis on my mind

While having a conversation with a students I said “I’m not the biggest Maynard Ferguson fan in the world, but I really like his recording of I Can’t Get Started With You.” The student gave the impression that there are not enough Maynard fans around here, and that we worship Miles Davis. I looked at him and smiled and said “Yeah, Miles…can’t say enough about him”. The students then went on to say that he thought Miles Davis was cool but “he was so bad at the trumpet”. I smiled again and went on to tell the student that there is a misconception about Miles Davis the trumpeter that is simply not true. Miles Davis is not a bad trumpeter.
In my opinion one of the greatest things about Miles Davis is his sound. As a young student I heard his recordings and thought to myself, I can sound like that. I did my best to mimic his playing on the Kind Of Blue recordings with a fair amount of success. After those tunes I didn’t try to play any more of his transcriptions, I thought I could move on to more technical solos…and I did. A few years later a trumpeter I was studying with assigned some Miles Davis transcriptions. I didn’t think anything of it; so l listened to the recording and started playing along and figured out that I couldn’t keep up with Miles. I found a written out transcription of the solo and started working on it.
The next week I went to my lesson a told my teacher of the trouble I had with playing these transcriptions. He basically said, “yeah…Miles Davis was a bad ass trumpeter and people don’t give him enough credit.” He could play in every register, and at any dynamic with the same clear tone. He was such a giant in the development of jazz that we overlook the way he played his instrument. I think this is a misconception we need to correct.

I am currently listening to this album while I write.

Miles Ahead

One response to “Miles Davis on my mind”

  1. I agree with you. My first trombone teacher was trumpeter who, when I played a recording of Miles from the early ’50’s, let me know that he didn’t like Miles’ trumpet playing at all. I guess that he couldn’t get past Miles’ tone. Roy Cummings told me the same thing – that, at first, he could not get past the tone, but later realize that Miles’ brilliance was in his individuality, creativity, and musicianship as a jazz soloist, let alone his leadership abilities.

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