He wore a Dashiki: Miles Davis at his best

This hub was officailly voted the #1 HubNugget on May 27, 2009
This hub was officailly voted the #1 HubNugget on May 27, 2009

I moved to Chicago in the 1960s, as a single mother with two young children. It was a very exciting city with lots going on in art, music, and theater. I first settled in an area called Saganash Park, then Evanston. But after discovering that everything that was "happening" was either downtown or in Old Town, I soon moved to a place where I could be closer to the "arts" scene. I started taking improvisation classes at Second City on Wells street, in Old Town and hanging out with friends where jazz was going on closeby. I also spent time, with my kids, at the art institute, the zoo, and the beach.

One of my fondest memories there was going to the funky little clubs on Wells Street. Although, there were a lot of jazz places downtown on Rush Street, Wells Street drew the "off-beat", avant-guard musicians, who were experimenting with some of the new jazz forms, such as cool, third stream and fusion. After the "big band" era, bebop had been the most popular jazz style with jazz musicians. But, when Miles Davis came upon the music scene, that all changed. Miles was one of those avant-guard musicians, who liked to take risks. He was often referred to as the Chameleon of Modern Music, restless, always moving ahead, despite what his audience, critics or sidemen preferred.

Some of his greatest masterpieces were put together and performed at a dark and smoky little jazz club on Wells Street called the Plugged Nickel. In the 1960s, Davis, who had by this time formed his second jazz quintet, was taking jazz in a new direction. Being impressed with his creativity and a music student at the time, I spent as much time as possible watching him and listening to his innovative music, whenever he was in town. The room was small with tables and chairs touched up against each other. We would sit within a few feet of the tiny stage. It was intimate and exciting, as though you knew each and every musician personally.. By the late 1960s, Miles was wearing Dashikis whenever he played on Wells street, a tribute to his African heritage. This made the experience even more exotic.

Throughout a professional career which lasted 50 years, Davis played the trumpet or flugelhorn. His style was lyrical, introspective, and melodic. He often used a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. He didn't believe in notes for the sake of notes, so his style was very understated, with frequent short intervals of silence. He was in the center of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in music during mid 1940s to the early 1990s. And he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances, recordings, and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward anymore.

Examples of the various periods in his musical life and two late-in-life interviews are below:

1882 Interview onThe Morning Show

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Comments 36 comments

Dink96 profile image

Dink96 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

I love this line: "It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward anymore." Miles certainly pushed the envelope to the extreme.

I was fortunate to have seen Miles Davis in concert after he released "Tutu" at a small theater in the round in our city. Unforgettable. I will always cherish the memory of that concert.

Great hub! Thank you very much.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Yeah, he was awesome. Brilliant, interesting and talented. When I started listed to these videos, I was mesmerized again. Thanks for the nice comment. What city is "our" city?


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

I love Miles and this Hub is great!

Thanks.

Love and peace

Tony


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Tony. I love Miles too. He was awesome.


john t 7 years ago

Great post about the power of Miles Davis and his undeniable influence on music in general, and jazz in particular. thanks!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, John, glad you enjoyed the post. Hope you come back for more.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I really dig Mr. Davis.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

He's definitely late night music to get one in the mood!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

goldentoad, thanks for the comment. I'll be checkin' out your hubs soon.

Cindy, thanks for giving me a read. Yeah, I love to listen to Miles almost any time, day or night.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Goldentoad , thanks for the comment. Read your latest (and only?) hub. Really strong stuff. Write more!

 


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

If you stick around. I'll bring some back up. How about that?


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You know what? I went over to your site to look around, read the only hub that was there and was so impressed that I read every single comment on the page, mostly to see your smart ass remarks. By the time I was through, there was another hub up there, from December, but I was so exhausted after my "hub and comment excursion", I decided to wait until tomorrow, when I could keep my eyes open. Thanks so much for bringing up something else for me to read though. You've got me hooked already. I look forward to the morning and more GT......Night


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi alekhouse, Miles Davis got the attention of the hubnugget team and this hub has been nominated as a Hubnugget. Read patty's hub: http://hubpages.com/hub/Time-for-The-Nugget-Awards...

You can read all the information there, check out the other hubnuggets and vote too! :-) Invite and email your friends and ask them to vote for your hub. The more the merrier. Good luck! :-)


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

RM, Thanks for the nomination. I'm flattered. I'm new here, so never heard of this honor....learning more "stuff" anout hubpages every day. And, by the way, I love "ripplemakers". I'm one myself.


Dink96 profile image

Dink96 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Congratulations, fellow HubNugget nominee! This is a no-brainer for me. (No pun intended...). Good luck!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Hey, how's it going? I looked for your piece (the one up for HubNugget award), but couldn't find it. What's the name of it? What do you mean "this is a no-brainer" for you?


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

I love Miles Davis' music. How lucky you are to have the memories of watching him at the Plugged Nickel. Great songs, I really like "Round Midnight". Thanks for the enjoyment!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks for the comment, k@ri. Are you familiar with Chicago and Wells St, where the Plugged Nickel was?


Julie-Ann Amos profile image

Julie-Ann Amos 7 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

Great hub thanks - well done


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks Julie Ann, appreciate the comment, Glad you liked the hub.


Dink96 profile image

Dink96 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

The one that garnered me a nomination was my hub entitled "Gamma Gamma Zorba." And for more fun stuff, you can read my "Brain Surgery Ain't No Salad" which should answer your other questions. :-) Lady Hub Nugget!!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Well, I will definitely read both of them. Thanks


trooper22 profile image

trooper22 7 years ago from Chicago

What a great hub and great tribute not only to my home city, but to one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. You get my vote hub nugget!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks for the nice comment


acidjazzguitarist profile image

acidjazzguitarist 7 years ago from Atlanta/Savannah

Wow. Must've been amazing to see him live back then.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Yeah, it was. Is that an acoustic bass you're playing? Or a Sitar? I can't tell, the picture's too small


acidjazzguitarist profile image

acidjazzguitarist 7 years ago from Atlanta/Savannah

That's not me.lol. That's my fave sufi philosopher musician Hazrat Inayat Khan. I play guitar.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Oh, thanks for clearing that up. Love the picture. What instrument is he playing?


acidjazzguitarist profile image

acidjazzguitarist 7 years ago from Atlanta/Savannah

That instrument is called a Sitar. Very distinctive sound. U can hear it in a lot of Indian music. Check out Ravi Shankar in google for an example.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Yeah, I thought it was. I've hear Ravi Shankar many times. Thanks.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

Miles D is one of my musical heroes great hub!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed the hub.


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

Thank you for this great hub and the videos. In 1989 I attended a concert with Miles at a festival in Poland, it was great.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks for the comments. How exciting to see Miles in Poland. I know he played a lot of concerts all over the world. He was such a great, innovative musician and really left his mark on jazz.


Journey * profile image

Journey * 6 years ago from USA

alekhouse, this is a great tribute to Miles D. Thanks for sharing.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You are welcome. And thanks for reading. Enjoyed your comment.

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