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He wore a Dashiki: Miles Davis at his best

Updated on October 28, 2012
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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    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      8 years ago from USA

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

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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.

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 

      8 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 

      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Miles D is one of my musical heroes great hub!

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • acidjazzguitarist profile image

      acidjazzguitarist 

      9 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • acidjazzguitarist profile image

      acidjazzguitarist 

      9 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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 

      9 years ago from Atlanta/Savannah

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

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks for the nice comment

    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 

      9 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Well, I will definitely read both of them. Thanks

    • Dink96 profile image

      Dink96 

      9 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Great hub thanks - well done

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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?

    • Dink96 profile image

      Dink96 

      9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

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

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 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: https://hubpages.com/hub/Time-for-The-Nugget-Award...

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 

      9 years ago from Free and running....

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

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

       

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

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

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 

      9 years ago from Free and running....

      I really dig Mr. Davis.

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • profile image

      john t 

      9 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 imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

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

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      I love Miles and this Hub is great!

      Thanks.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • alekhouse profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      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?

    • Dink96 profile image

      Dink96 

      9 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.

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