MILES  BEYOND


The Electric Explorations
of Miles Davis
1967-1991





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News


March 2014

Miles Davis Bootleg Vol 3«5» Time for what appears to be a yearly update, this time to highlight the impending release of Volume 3 of The Bootleg Series, called MILES AT THE FILLMORE: Miles Davis in 1970. This release is of serious interest to lovers of the electric music of Miles Davis. It allows us to finally hear all the music from four concerts at the Fillmore East in June 1970, sections of which had been released in 1970 in a trunctuated form on a double album called Miles At Fillmore, and later re-released as a double CD. I've received an advance copy of the new 4-CD boxed set, which contains 135 minutes of previously unreleased music. The original Fillmore release always seemed rather flawed, not only because of Teo Macero's brutal edits, but also because the sound was shrill and sharp. All this is rectified on the new boxed set. The music has been remixed and sounds glorious. This is a must-hear and must-buy.

As often, there are a few issues. For some reason the positions in the sound spectrum of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea are reversed (they should be left and right respectively, but are right and left on the new release), which is rather sloppy. There's a nice, impressionistic essay by Michael Cuscuna, who was at one of the concerts, and the pre-release version also contains an interview with Santana. Reportedly Santana was unhappy with the album's cover, which he said had nothing to do with Miles, and he withdrew his cooperation and his section of the liner notes will be omitted from the release when it sees the light of day on March 25th. These are the rumours I've heard, let's see what the reality is.

On another front, some of you may have noticed that there not just one but  two Miles Davis movies in the making. The most widely publicised one is the brainchild of actor Don Cheadle. The working title is Kill The Trumpet Player and it is placed in Miles' "silent period," 1975-79. It is also said to feature Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana. The time period is intriguing, since Miles descended into a private hell of pain and drugs abuse during this period. One imagines that any movie about Miles will need to address and portray his greatness as an artist, and 1975-79 was the one period that he wasn't a great artist. The other Miles pic is being made by George Tillman, in collaboration with Miles' eldest son Gregory, and is said be more traditional.

Finally, I received an e-mail from a reader this morning who alerted me to the fact that it appears that there has been a Soviet-style attempt to rewrite history by elminating all mention of Miles Beyond on Wikipedia. Despite the fact that my book is one of a handful of major Miles biographies and remains the only serious book on the crucial 1970-75 era, every single reference to my book has been removed from all Miles Davis-related Wikipedia pages. There's no mention of it in any of the Bibliographies, not on the main Miles Davis biography page, nor on any of the electric album entries.

Instead, most book references from the 1970-75 era are made to Chambers' biography, who dismissed the era and clearly had no idea, and to John Szwed's book, who by his own admission didn't understand this period at all. I was naive enough to send Szwed a bound galley of my book while he was writing his, and was sad to see that he literally plundered my book, often uncredited. But even if the part of Szwed's book that deals with the music of 1970-75 had been based on original research and genuine insight on his part, that still wouldn't invalidate the crucial place of Miles Beyond as the book that most dramatically deepened our understanding of the electric music of Miles, particularly of the 1970-75 period.

Here's a request to all of you who appreciate my book: please go to Wikipedia and edit it back into its rightful place. You have my permission to quote from the book, up to a few lines, and make sure information that is attributed to Szwed and others but that they obtained from Miles Beyond (there's quite a bit of that), is attributed to my book, which was the original source. The reader has already begun this work, on the Wikipedia Agharta page. Some of his edits still stand, but for example his effort to contribute the correct Agharta song titling to Enrico Merlin's work in Miles Beyond, has already been reverted to John Szwed, who based himself on Enrico's work. It's all a bit surreal and Kafka-esque. Particularly those of you who are aware of Wikipedia house rules and can perhaps also argue your corner on the behind-the-scenes discussions, you are warmly invited to go in there and put Miles Beyond on the map again, where it should be.

As for who is behind this effort to eliminate the book from history, I don't know for sure, of course, but this story suggests a motive...

March 2013

Miles Davis Bootleg Vol 2«25» A little belatedly, news of real news: the release of the Volume 2 in the Bootleg Series, a box set of 3 CDs and 1 DVD of the Miles Davis Quintet playing Live in Europe in 1969. The band consisted of Miles, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, and has sometimes been called the Lost Quintet, because it never was recorded in the studio. It's also been billed as the Third Great Quintet, which may seem like hyperbole, but the music on this set really is excellent. The concerts, two in Juan-les-Pins in France in July, one in Stockholm in May, while the DVD documents a gig in Berlin in July, see Miles in between the recordings of In A Silent Way (February) and Bitches Brew (August), tentatively moving from the relatively traditional jazz quintet format into something entirely new. Dave Holland still plays acoustic bass, but Corea mans the electric piano for part of the time, and the repertoire is a mixture of material that Miles used to play with the Second Great Quintet (Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams), and some new additions such as "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down," "It's About That Time" and "Bitches Brew." This set is perhaps a little early in Miles's move from jazz to jazz-rock for the rock-minded to jump in, but is essential listening for anyone happy to explore the vast universe that incorporates both jazz and rock. I only just got the set in, so will report in more detail later on. Legacy assures me that the Bootleg Series is ongoing, so in two years we may see Miles in 1970, presumably followed by Miles in 1971, then in 1972, and finally, hopefully, also 1973-75 material. Doing the sums we may have to wait until the next decade for that last release, but perhaps Legacy will surprise us. 

May 2012

Miles Davis Bootleg Vol 1«31» Miles Davis has appeared on a postage stamp, there's been the Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition boxed set, there's been the release of the 5-CD boxed set, The Warner Years, 1986-1991 , there's been drip-drip news of the Don Cheadle biopic on Miles, that's not going to be a biopic but a gangster pic set in 1979, apparently, and more. None of these things have been able to prompt an update on this News page, despite the occasional guilty pang. The news of Pete Cosey's passing yesterday, however, has really shaken me and is the reason why I'm writing these words at the moment.

Those of you who have read Miles Beyond and regular visitors to this site will know that Cosey's amazing, futuristic playing with Miles during 1973-75, particularly on Agharta and Pangaea, was as much a reason for me writing the book as Miles himself. I was lucky enough to be able to interview Cosey at length in 1999, at a time when he wasn't willing to be interviewed at all (his mother talked him into doing the interview).  He provided many great quotes, stories and insights. I also was very happy to see the recognition he enjoyed during the 00s, inspired by the publication of Miles Beyond as well as the release of various boxed sets with Miles' music from the 1960s and 70s, all of which triggered a general reappraisal of that music.

Pete was a session guitarist for Chess Records in Chicago and played with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry, was a founder member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and later played with Herbie Hancock. But like so many other Miles sidemen, Cosey reached his peak when playing with the master, particularly on Agharta and Pangaea, on which his soloing to this day literally remains out of this world. He devised one of the most original and distinct styles ever heard on the electric guitar, and his adventerous playing and gentle wisdom will be greatly missed

One sad aspect of Cosey's death at 68 is that he will take the secrets of his guitar playing, including his many guitar tunings and effects and his unorthodox general thinking about music, with him into his grave. When I asked him the detailed guitaristic questions another guitarist would ask him he politely declined to answer, saying he aimed to write a book detailing them. But of course, the book never happened. He did lift the veil a little bit, and some of his answers are in Miles Beyond. I aim to dig out and publish the full transcript of my interview with him. Until then, do check out George Cole's excellent interview with Cosey, which you can find here...

I salute you, Pete, for taking the electric guitar into unknown territories that the rest of us could barely dream of, and in doing so blowing the brains of a small group of teenagers with avant-garde music tastes in an obscure provincial town in The Netherlands in the late 70s to such a degree that their lives were separated in a time before and a time after, with one of them going on to write a book about the electric music of Miles Davis...  (for more on this, read the Intro page, where you'll also find an audio excerpt of one of Cosey's wildest solos.)

September 2011

«28» Shock and horror, and even more, here's the Mother of All Late Updates! After half a year of computer problems I'm back online. Well, my computer fried itself on April 1 (no joke) and because acquiring a laptop PC with solid music recording capabilities is a serious issue these days, it took until 2 weeks ago for me to get delivery of an up to date brand new machine. In the mean time I worked on my partner's ageing computer, and installing HTML editors and FTP upload software appeared a dangerous, destabilising option best avoided. So I left Miles Beyond alone for a bit, also because I'd gotten rather bored and discouraged by strings of releases that seemed little more than a repackaging of old stuff, either cheaply for the budget minded, or pricey to take as much money as possible from rich and ageing fans (CDs in a trumpet case, anyone?) But now, with new, super-fast hardware and software under my fingers, and awoken out of my e-slumbers by e-mails from some regular visitors to this site, I've had a look around, and it appears a matter of the classic waiting for a bus situation: you wait for ages and there's nothing, and then suddenly three pass by at the same time...

And so, in fully focusing on the topic of Miles and his electric music again, some alarm bell went off in my brain, making me realise that this is a particularly appropriate and poignant day to get back on track, as it's the 20th anniversary of his death. That's something that bears thinking about for a moment. In some ways it now really seems a long time ago that he was still with us. Almost as if he was from another era. On the other hand, Miles would be have been 85 this year (sorry for not reporting on the various goings-on to celebrate that fact), and could still have been a comtemporary. And much of his music, of course, particularly from the seventies, sounds more contemporary than ever.

Miles Davis Bootleg Vol 1In this context one set of releases sounds particularly exciting. Called the Bootleg Series, part one has just been issued, containing live material from the Second Great Quintet playing in Europe in late 1967, with both audio and visuals, the latter taken from TV broadcasts. Legacy is sending me the set, and I promise to report on it within a couple of weeks. For now, the AntiMusic site has an excellent overview, which you can read here... . These live recordings, many of which have already been available on bootlegs, showcase the very first steps Miles took in a new, more modern, direction. More exciting still, the next volumes should take us straight into electric territory. I've asked some of the people who are working on the series for more info, and will report when I have it.

In addition, Eagle Rock this month releases a compilation of video footage from Miles' Montreux concerts, 1973-91. This is apparently a taster for the release of a huge boxed set with the full video footage of all Miles' Montreux concerts, the audio of which was already issued on The Complete Miles Davis At Montreux in 2002. This should be a truly fascinating release. More about this soon as well.

And finally, there's another repackaging release, mentioned here purely to justify the three buses joke. Legacy is also releasing a 22-CD boxed-set called The Pserfect Miles Davis Collection. Says Sony: "20 iconic original albums in mini LP replica sleeves, presented in a rigid case lift off lid box with a 56 page booklet and discography. This Miles collection is being released with the more casual Jazz consumer in mind as a first-time boxset purchase of Miles’ work and commemorates the 20th anniversary of his death which falls on the 28th of September." In other words, this is a compressed, cheaper version of the 71-CD boxed set The Complete Columbia Album Collection that was issued in 2009 (see below). More about this later as well. I'm still getting all this software to work, and will breathe a sigh of relief when I've managed to upload this page. So, as they like to say in the jazz world... later...

November 2010

«12» Shock horror, another update! First off, it appears that Warners Europe has decided to release a heavily trunctuated version of The Last Word, the never released 2001 6-CD boxed set. Instead there's the 2-CD Perfect Way: the Miles Davis Anthology. One would have hoped that this 2-CD would have contained some significant previously unreleased material but sadly, apart from two tracks from the "Rubber Band" sessions, it appears that some of 6-CD set's unreleased material was replaced by tracks from the readily available Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, recorded a few months before Miles' death in September 1991, material that stylistically doesn't really fit with the rest of what's on this double CD. Including this, instead of more previously unreleased material, seems a missed opportunity, and suggests that permission to release some of the unreleased stuff is still not forthcoming. Or perhaps, here's hoping, Perfect Way is a way of testing the waters for a full release of The Last Word.

Someone alerted me to Grooveshark a streaming music site that I wasn't previously aware of. The great thing about it is that it appears to stream most, if not all, of Miles' electric music. You don't have to sign up, or download software, it's free, and both the sound quality and the interface are admirable. There's tons of good stuff there by countless artists, and since discovering the site it's been the only thing I've listened to...

Someone else alerted me to this great bit of footage of Miles at the Antibes Jazz Festival, France, in 1969. The sound quality is quite good, for Youtube at least, and DeJohnette's drumming is truly ferocious. Enjoy!

We Want Miles«05» Wow, a whole year of no news! Apologies for this, the usual reasons apply: family life, making money, raising kids, recording music and playing gigs – in general having a life. I have, however, another excuse, which is as valid as it is frustrating, and this is that there's not much to relate. I've been genuinely neglectful in only one thing: failing to report the publication early this year of a hefty book on Miles, called We Want Miles, with text by French writers Franck Bergerot and Vincent Bessières, plus a few others. It was published as part of the Cité de la Musique Miles exhibition in Paris a year ago, which also saw the release of the intially badly packaged but otherwise quite wonderful 71-CD boxed set Complete Columbia Album Collection (now retailing for a cool US$365, more info in entry for Nov 2009 below). The book texts by Bergerot and Bessières are well-written and give a good overview of Miles' career. There are a few short texts by others that are also well-worth reading. The main reason, however, for getting this book are the enormous amount of great pictures, many of which yours truly had never seen before.

In addition, there's the very fancy and pricey (US$122) Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition boxed set, plus the even more fancy and pricey (US$652) The Genius of Miles Davis 43-CD boxed set, that contains all the previously released Columbia boxed sets, covering 1955-1974. There have also been rumours of Warners wanting to revive the ill-fated 2001 6-CD boxed set. Frustratingly, reportedly Warners isn't convinced of the set's commercial potential, and has shelved the project again. In addition, the latest news is that work on the feature movie on Miles' life has stalled... and that, for the moment is it. Heck, even the news page on milesdavis.com has only two new entries since October 2009!

It's very little news in a whole year, and one does start to wonder whether Miles legacy is being kept alive actively enough. As one of the towering figures in 20C music, who made music, particularly his electric stuff, that's still relevant and modern today, one would hope that his stature increases, rather than that he's gradually sinking into museum-status semi-obscurity, as so many great jazz musicians have. The new record company releases, impressive but also expensive as they are, are re-re-repackagings and appear to be aimed at a very a select group of diehard and well-off fans, and apart from the exhibition premièred in Paris, which has since travelled to Montreal, there's precious little happening that would reach a wider and younger audience. Here's hoping my next update won't be in a year from now...

November 2009

«30» This morning a courier van arrived, delivering a large box. As I signed for it, I was wondering what possibly could be inside. I found a smaller box, and inside of that the 71-CD Complete Columbia Album Collection. Quelle surprise. I'm not sure who in Columbia I have to thank, but the 250-page accompanying booklet contained an even larger surprise that may explain: after a long list of 'Special thanks' there's a very short list of 'Very Special Thanks,' in which not only Peter Losin is mentioned for his "invaluable web discography" Miles Ahead, but also yours truly "for his book Miles Beyond, which includes Enrico Merlin's excellent discography of Miles' electric period." To say 'quelle surprise' doesn't even come close to it. This is the first-ever official acknowledgement of yours truly on a Columbia album release, others almost certainly having been blocked by the Miles Davis Estate. Perhaps Bob Belden's assurance that Vince Wilburn Jr has buried the hatched is true after all, which would be welcome. Complete Columbia Albums Collection

Some quick first impressions. The boxed set is nice and compact, with the 53 albums inside packaged in cardboard miniature versions of the original LP sleeves. The albums exclude the additional material that was released on previous boxed sets, for instance, the Bitches Brew album only contains 2-CDs with the originally released material. I can see the rationale of trying to issue a collection of all the official albums as they were released in Miles' lifetime. This makes it surprising, but nonetheless welcome, to see later releases like It's About That Time, Live At The Fillmore (March 7th 1970), and even Isle Of Wight, the music from Murray Lerner's spectacular DVD of Miles' concert there in August 1970. Plus there's the previously unreleased Live In Europe, which is a DVD with video footage of two concerts by the second great quintet in 1967, on October 31 in Sweden and November 7 in Germany.

I was aware of the vitriol unleashed on this boxed set by some buyers at amazon.com, because of packaging and delivery issues, ie the boxed set arriving broken and some or all CDs being covered in glue. Obviously, this is a delivery and production problem that should not in itself shape one's opinion of the set, though I do hope that these fans got their money back or a replacement box. My set arrived in one piece, looks and feels sturdy enough, and a quick scan through several of the CDs showed no problems with glue. Remaining purely in the packaging level, one thing that's attractive is that these 53 albums take up just 23cm in length. Compare that to the 70+cm that these albums are currently taking up in my bookshelf...

Then, to the music. The main reason why Miles lovers who already have everything might want to buy this set, other than collector's value and clearing half a meter of shelf space, lies in one small line in the production credits which reads: "Mastered by Mark Wilder and Maria Triana at Battery Studios, NYC" (the latter reference illustrates once again what a crazy idea it was to close Sony Music Studios in NYC). So does the music sound better? There's already been a lot of questions and debate about what masters were used for this boxed set, and Columbia isn't really offering any explanations, which doesn't bode well. Normally terms like "remastered" or "remixed" are bandied around with ease as perfect marketing ploys. Plus Bob Belden's name is conspicuously absent from the set, suggesting that no material was used from any of the remastered, unedited, sometimes remixed Complete this that or the other boxed sets. This would fit in with the apparent replicate-originally-released LPs philosophy of the new set. But then, Columbia's Miles site states that the 2 Plugged Nickel CDs contain unedited tracks, so these must be from the Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel boxed set. Confusing.

At the moment I don't know the answers, and only my ears can tell. After receiving the set I instantly loaded the newly mastered version of Agharta, one of the albums that suffered most from bad mastering, and compared it to my 1991 Columbia version. The verdict: the new CD sounds like a woolen blanket has been lifted from the previous CD. The main gain is that Pete Cosey can be heard in all his glory, whereas before he sounded muffled in the mix. The newly mastered version is still rather bass light, but this may have to do with the original master tapes. The LP version also didn't have a lot of bass, but I always assumed this was due to the LP cut: with long album lengths the grooves can hold less bass information. I guess the original master tapes were the original culprit here, if they were used. Does it sound as good or better than the Japanese Mastersound edition? As I don't have the latter here, I'll have to ask Enrico [Merlin] and get back on that. But it definitely sounds better than previous US releases. I will listen and compare more and relate my experiences in the next few days. I'll also see if I can get a hold of Mark Wilder and/or Maria Triana and some of the other people involved in the making of this set, and relate their comments.

Meanwhile, thanx to whoever at Sony was alert and kind enough to send me the boxed set, and also thanx to whoever insisted on crediting Enrico and I in the boxed set booklet.

During the next update also news on Enrico's brand new and spectacular-looking book Bitches Brew: Genesi del capolavoro di Miles Davis. It's in Italian, so I won't be able to get past first impressions, but I hope to provide a link and a few words from Enrico.

«20» I received this press release this morning...sounds like it may be well worth a listen...

MILES DAVIS RADIO TO LAUNCH EXCLUSIVELY ON SIRIUS XM RADIO

SIRIUS XM Radio will launch Miles Davis Radio, a 24-hour commercial-free channel devoted to the music and career of Miles Davis, one of the greatest visionaries and most important figures in jazz history. The limited-run channel will launch on Friday, November 20 at 3:00 pm ET and will run until Wednesday, November 25 on SIRIUS channel 72 and XM channel 70.

Miles Davis Radio, hosted by Davis’ son Erin Davis, his nephew drummer Vince Wilburn Jr. and legendary bassist, producer and writer Marcus Miller, will feature music from Davis’ extensive catalog, which includes over one hundred albums. Listeners will hear composer and former Miles Davis music director Robert Irving III premiere never before heard soundtrack music recorded by Davis for the 1986 film Wise Guys. In addition, the channel is scheduled to include special segments and interviews with former Davis band members and various guests, including drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianist Herbie Hancock, guitarist John Scofield, pianist Monty Alexander, record executives Bruce Lundvall and Clive Davis, Davis’ long-time road manager Gordon Meltzer, bassist Ron Carter, guitarist Carlos Santana, Rolling Stones bassist Darryl “Munch” Jones and friend and peer Quincy Jones.

Words and music will also be devoted to different phases of Davis’ career including stories from the legend himself. Courtesy of CBS News, excerpts from the 1989 60 Minutes interview with the late Harry Reasoner will be aired and musician/broadcaster Ben Sidran contributes his 1989 conversation conducted on the beach at Davis’ Malibu home. The channel coincides with the November 24 release of Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection, a deluxe limited edition retrospective of the iconic music Davis created during his 30 years with Columbia Records – 70 CDs and 1 DVD packaged in Japanese-styled mini LP Jackets, plus a 250-page book with a biography, discography, complete song index and rare photos. For more information, please visit Sirius or Columbia's Miles Davis site.

«5» Anyone been to the one of the Miles events in Paris, particularly the show billed as 'Miles From India'? It be nice to have your reactions... please e-mail me via the Interact page.

Then, I don't know how many of you are aware of the astonishing amount of live concerts at Wolfgang's Vault, that can be streamed online for free or downloaded for a small fee, but the site has seven streaming concerts by Miles from 1970-71, one of which has now been made available for free download. Check it out here...

October 2009

«26» Yes, sit down, and hang on to your hats, here’s an update to the Miles Beyond site! Thanx for the e-mails asking what’s happening and sorry about the dearth news, but with a full-time writing job, two young kids, gigging, and working on a new album (been doing some stuff with Paul Buckmaster), every second I don’t have to sit behind a computer... I don’t…

But here, finally, some bits of news… which, strangely, suggest that all roads lead to Paris at the moment, well, at least those to do with Miles’ legacy. For starters, I’m sure that all of you are aware of the 70-CD boxed set, The Complete Columbia Album Collection, which will be released on November 24. I’ve glanced at this from the corner of my eye a few times, kind of pushing it behind the horizon as I’m in general not a big fan of such compilations. Sometimes they have a real raison d’etre, as in the case of the two new Beatles boxed sets, but most of Miles’ Columbia stuff has been remastered and re-boxed and re-released already, so I’ve been skeptical of the validity of this new venture. But I promise I’ll have a closer look at the 70-CD set and will report back.

So what’s this got to do with Paris? Well, apparently the boxed set was initially requested by the folks that are behind the major Miles Davis exhibition, lectures, and concert series that are going on in Paris this fall and winter. The exhibition is called We Want Miles, Miles Davis Jazz Face to Face with its Legend and runs until January 17, 2009 at the Musée de la Musique. You can download the brochure here...

The concerts and lectures series at the Cite de la Musique starts tomorrow. Also called We Want Miles, it schedules some concerts that definitely are of interest for electric Miles Fans. There are two homages by French musicians, one called “Bitches Brew Spirit” the other “Electric Miles” (featuring Laurent Cugny’s Enormous Band), and a number of former Miles sidemen will descend upon Paris for two concerts billed as “Miles From India” (Nov 2) and “On The Corner” (Dec 19).

Dave Liebman and Badal Roy, who both played in On The Corner, feature on the December 19 bill, as well as the excellent John Abercrombie on guitar, so that should be interesting. However, a look at the line-up of the “Miles From India” concert will lead to some head scratching by anyone familiar with the excellent Bob Belden-produced eponymously-titled album. Only Badal Roy, Adam Holzman, Ndugu Chancler, Vince Wilburn Jr, U Shrinivas, and Selva Ganesh appear from the huge line-up that featured on said album. This means no Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Chick Corea, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Dave Liebman, John McLaughlin, Marcus Miller, Mike Stern, or Lenny White, and that’s not going into details on the thinned out ranks of Indian musicians. The most glaring omission on the Indian front is pianist Louiz Banks, who was the most central Indian musician in the album’s making.

There’s also no mention of the album's producer, Bob Belden, who initiated the project and is its creative mastermind, and who was at the heart of a number of high-profile Miles From India performances in the US (see photo below @ July 2008). It makes one wonder whether he either couldn’t make the date and gave his blessing to the project from afar, or someone more or less hijacked his idea and the project. I sent an e-mail to Belden asking him what’s happening, and he turns out to take the “hi-jack” view. The man’s definitely very upset, and I’m still wading my way through the avalanche of material he’s sent me, apparently showing how an all-star gig, that was supposed to include Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and many of the other original musicians, as well as Belden, got diluted to what’s on offer on November 2, sans these guys. All this also means that that the Miles doc that Belden was working on has been cancelled. He also doesn't think that Don Cheadle's Miles Davis feature film will happen. Too bad. As to the reasons why, I'll leave you with this familiar-sounding observation by Belden, “Money trumps Art. All the time. No matter where you are, no matter the stated defence.”

March 2009

«1» With an American president who appears to be the embodiment of cool, and many people being rather puzzled by this, I've posted an excerpt from Miles Beyond describing the roots of the concept of coolness here.... Substitute 'Miles' with 'Obama,' and the similarities are striking.

February 2009

«09» Sadly, Bob Belden didn't win the Grammy last night for the Miles From India album, nor did John McLaughlin, for Floating Point. There were, however, two ex-Miles Men who did win Grammys: Chick Corea (with Gary Burton) for The New Crystal Silence in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group category, and Jack DeJohnette for Peace Time in, perhaps surprisingly, the Best New Age Album category. Congrats.

I have, meanwhile, finally managed to create a Myspace Music page for myself. You can find it here...

January 2009

«28» A very belated happy new year to everyone... Family commitments and several lengthy power cuts have kept me off the Internetwaves... A few bits and pieces of news. First off, it appears that the efforts of some of you to add your vote at the Legacy Recording "User Voice" site has had some effect, as several of the recommended Miles Davis boxed sets, (live in 1975, the complete 1980s sessions, complete Fillmore 1970) are "under review." Those of you that haven't added your vote yet, you can do so at the links under November 2008 below.

Then, congrats to Bob Belden, who has been nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his work on the fantastic Miles From India album. Let's hope another congratulation is in order next month... By the way, Times Square Records have released a special vinyl version of the album. More info can be found here... On YouTube there's also a nice video of a version of the Miles From India ensemble performing "Spanish Key" in India.

Finally, Carl Hager runs an interesting blog dedicated to post-1968 jazz music, "with particular emphasis on Jazz-Rock and Fusion." His latest instalment, a dedication to the great Freddie Hubbard, is well-worth reading and can be found here...

November 2008

«23» Sony Legacy has a new web page that allows people to suggest, or vote for, new reissue projects. This is a good opportunity to get your voice heard regarding new Miles Davis reissues. You can find the web page here... Electric Miles fan Simon Howson has already made three suggestions, including for the Holy Grail of Miles Davis re-issues: a boxed set with all the live recordings made in Japan in the beginning of 1975 (may the existing mixes be properly remastered, and someone like Bill Laswell be given a shot at mixing the previously unlreased shows...). Howson has also suggested the issue of the Complete Columbia 1980s Sessions and of the Complete Live at At Fillmore 1970. Someone has also suggested a boxed set with all the 1960s live material. Do rush over to these pages and support these suggestions, and/or add new ones. Let me know if you've done the latter, so I can point people towards them...

October 2008

«5» It appears that Don Cheadle's biopic of Miles is going to get competition. Nick Raines, who is related to former Paramount Chief Martin Davis, has bought the film rights of Gregory Davis's book Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis, with the intention of being the producer of another biopic. Here's a New York Post news article with some more details.

July 2008

«13» The fabulous Miles From India album has its own web site, which can be found here... Various positive reviews have appeared on the Web, for instance in JazzReview, Allmusic, and Dusted. A photo of the band at Cal Plaza, Los Angeles, on June 1, 2008, is below...

June 2008

«19» Just received an e-mail from Don Was, the legendary producer (Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Stones) and co-band leader of Was (Not Was):

"got the miles book....opened it and couldn't put it down!!! very well researched... thorough and fascinating! well done...thank you."

Cheers Don. Was has a fascinating web site with some great music on it. You can find it here... It's full of videos of artists he's worked with, shot in the studio. Great camerawork with focus on the musicians and the sound is pretty good too... beats everything on YouTube hands down. Click on the tab 'Watch Don Was' and check out in particular the vids with Sweat Pea Atkinson, Wayne Kramer, Guy Clark and the free jazz of saxophonist David McMurray.

More updates on the Miles movie. The first scenes for the documentary were shot early June, with the following people involved, Director: Chris Wilkinson; executive Producer Kerry David; producers: Chris Wilkinson and Bob Belden; director of photography Steven Poster; editor Tim Robin. Cast: Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter. Subject: The Jazz Scene, life and times from pre-Early Miles to the sixties.

Someone alerted me to these pictures of Miles. Looks like they were taken some time in the fifties, and he's looking remarkably relaxed and healthy.

April 2008

«20»Don Cheadle Some more details of the upcoming Miles Davis feature movie, which will by accompanied by a documentary. Both are financed by HBO/Picturehouse. Everyone should know by now that Don Cheadle (Crash, Ocean's Thirteen) is directing the feature film and will star as Miles Davis. Chris Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele ("Ali"/"Nixon") are writing the screenplay and are executive producing, and Vince Wilburn Jr. and Darryl Porter are producing. Shooting is due to start in May, 2008. With regards to the documentary, Chris Wilkinson is the director, and it will be co-produced by him and Bob Belden. Filming is about to begin. The release date of these goodies? Who knows.

Rave Left the cover of the May issue of Rave magazine, featuring Louiz Banks, keyboardist and arranger, who is, next to Bob Belden, the central force behind the Miles From India album. Rave is an Indian music magazine that appears to have discovered jazz with the imminent release of Miles From India. Belden is Rave's new jazz editor and there's a headline that claims India: The Future of Jazz. It might be worth picking up this issue of Rave, if you can get it. Btw, more news about Miles From India soon...

«17» Teo Macero, the grand master studio magician who played an essential role in many of Miles' greatest recordings, including many of his electric efforts, left his physical form on February 19. In addition, Joe Zawinul died last September. I had the pleasure of knowing both of them, and they were great men indeed. Both were instrumental in the making of two of Miles' most influential albums, In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. To commemmorate the duo, I've retrieved my 2001 article for Mojo magazine about the recordings of these two albums, featuring interviews with them, as well as with several others that were present. You can read this article here... Oh, when reading, bear in mind that this was written for a rock audience. The article assumes readers that are less au fait with this bit of music history...

January 2008

«28» Too late to wish any of you MF's a Happy New Year, so here's me simply saying 'hi' and hoping that you're still occasionally checking in, because I have some good news for you. First of all, my prayers have been heard and an enthusiastic visitor to this site with software programming skills has contacted me and is now busy redesigning and programming this site. Some time later this year you'll be able to visit Miles Beyond MkII, the main difference being that many pages will be interactive, offering you the space to comment on and discuss what's on these pages! It'll prompt me to write some reviews, for instance of the Complete On The Corner Sessions, and you can add your own opinions, or dispute mine or anyone else's. I also intend to post more bootleg material, both AV and audio. All this should enliven this site no end!

Then, for those living in the US, the January-February issue of Jazziz magazine contains a feature article by me on the making of On The Corner. I may be biased, but will nevertheless assert that it makes worthwhile reading!

Miles From India coverAnd finally, I just received a press release about the impending Miles From India release, which, as I've remarked below, is fantastic. I'll soon also post a full track and personnel listings and, with permission, a few snippets of music.

You can read the whole press release here......







December 2007

25

Merry Xmas

Aside from the seasonal well-wishes, the images above also serves to illustrate the two main reasons for the relative lack of updates on this site! I hope to be able to spend more time in the saddle next year. Anyway, have a good one, and, in keeping with the spirit of the season, you might want to click on the The Hunger Site and The Rainforest Site...

«04» A very amusing Complete On The Corner Sessions review on the Mapsadaisical blog site can be found here... Also entertaining, and we'll forgive the young critic some ignorant remarks (e.g. Miles calling people "motherfucker" had nothing to do with him being angry), is the piece in Stylus magazine here... Finally, the BBC says that everyone should have the OTC boxed set, and when they say it, it must be true... not? Read it here...

«03» Thanx for all your e-mails in recent weeks, mostly with reflections on The Complete On The Corner Sessions boxed set. Yes, a blog review of the boxed set, to which you can add your own impressions, is in the works, as is a blog review of Evolution of the Groove. Rather than apologise again for the delay with these efforts, perhaps this time it's better to tell you all to get a grip and that it is, admittedly at a stretch, possible to have a life without Miles Beyond updates!

In any case, here's a nice piece of news: I was sent a copy of the final masters of the Miles From India album, and... it's stunning. What could have been a Frankenstein-like juxtaposition of different cultures is, instead, a triumph. Former Miles sidemen Dave Liebman, Gary Bartz, Marcus Miller, John McLaughlin, Pete Cosey, Mike Stern, Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Benny Rietveld, Michael Henderson, Jimmy Cobb, Lenny White, Vince Wilburn, Jr., Ndugu and Badal Roy are all involved, as well as Wallace Rooney who sounds more like Miles around 1969 than ever before. Together with well over a dozen eminent Indian musicians they work their way through a collection of tracks from Kind Of Blue, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Big Fun, and the results are amazing. The album is planned for release in February on Times Square Records. Look out for it! I'll ask whether I can post a few snippets... Oh, and a small detail: Vince Wilburn and Adam Holzman play together on one of the tracks, which is cool as they until recently were not on speaking terms. Perhaps there's hope for Vince and yours truly after all! :)

On a sadder note, news has reached me that Tom Terrell, journalist and the writer of some of the liner notes for the Complete On The Corner Sessions has died of cancer. Tom's liner notes have come in for quite a lot of stick in some quarters, including from yours truly, because they were strong on impressionistic anecdotes and short on actual information and explanations. Given the mysterious and often perplexing nature of the music involved, the latter seemed more urgently called for. Whatever one's opinion on his notes, we wish those close to Tom strength and courage.

Then, not to leave you hanging in there with nothing, a few people have alerted me to reviews of the Complete On The Corner Sessions, in one case kindly agreeing with a comment that Miles Beyond, the book, should have been bundled with the boxed set. Who am I to argue with that?! :) Read the review here... In addition, Dave Segal alerted me to his review for Orange County Weekly, which you can read here..., while Greg Masters pointed to his very, very thorough review in All About Jazz, which you can read here...

Now, onto creating these blogs... It's hard to find time to do this, let alone spend the time involved learning about html coding, so if anyone who has experience in creating interactive web sites is willing to help me create such pages at the miles-beyond.com site, please contact me via... Ooops, this reminds me, the contact address for this site has changed! It's now speak@theurlofthissite. In other words, speak, the 'at' sign, and then miles-beyond.com.

October 2007

«26» Apologies, once again, for the lack of updates, due to the demands of my First Life: family, writing, playing music, the universe, and everything. Internet's Second Life has by consequence been rather neglected, this despite the fact that these are exciting times, with The Complete On The Corner Sessions seeing the light of day. Thanx for your various e-mails about the album and your book orders. It appears that the boxed set is finally easily available in the US, and the UK release will be this coming Monday.

The Guardian about On The Corner

To coincide with the UK release, The Guardian is publishing a story on the influence of On The Corner(see image to the left), written by yours truly . You can find the story here....

In addition, Jazziz magazine in the US will be publishing an entirely different story by me about On The Corner in their November issue, featuring new interviews with a number of the musicians.

Meanwhile, Jazzwise magazine in the UK has published a story by my colleage George Cole, author of the book The Last Miles, and you can read an excerpt of it here...

Like many of you, I've also finally been able to lay my hands on the finished product of The Complete On The Corner Sessions, and, well, the embossed casing is great, and the booklet pretty cool too, with several great new photographs of Miles and his band in the 1970s. The only downsides of the finished product are that the essay by Tom Terrell is spread out so much that it's hard to read, I suppose Legacy felt that it had to fill the pages somehow to make the booklet look as substantial as that of previous boxed sets, and there's also an additional very short essay by Terrell that wasn't included in the pre-release promo pack. The brief essay places On The Corner in the context of Miles' musical development of 1969-1975, and is fine, though writing that OTC relegated Bitches Brew to "near-demo status" is just plain silly.

Yes, I do intend to start these blogs, that will allow you MF's to comment. Watch this space next week, when I'll post that promised page about Evolution of the Groove and there'll also be space to give your comments on The Complete On The Corner Sessions. So check back soon...

Finally, a pic from The Complete On The Corner Sessions era. It was first seen as part of the packaging of Dark Magus, which was recorded in March 1974 and featured a different band. This pic is from April 1973, when Cosey had just joined, and Smith and the two Indian musicians were still in the band. From left to right, Reggie Lucas, Lonnie Liston Smith, Dave Liebman, Pete Cosey, Miles Davis, Michael Henderson, Badal Roy, Mtume. Not pictured are drummer Al Foster and sitarist Khalil Balakrishna. This band features on quite a few tracks on the new OTC boxed set.
Miles Davis and band 1973

«07» I've been receiving several e-mails from folk in the US complaining that the On The Corner boxed set has still to turn up, and wanting to know why. I called Sony Legacy, and they tell me that they have production and transportation problems. The box is apparently rather difficult to make, involving a metal casing with embossed imprint, and is made in China. Small shipments are trickling into the US, and the Legacy representative couldn't say where they would be available first. The company doesn't even have promotional copies yet. He did send me what's called a 'product' shot, which you can see below... I was also sent a few images of Miles and his band in the early seventies, which I'll post in a few days. Oh, and I've begun a blog page, which will be up at the same time. So check back later this week.

The Complete On The Corner Sessions

September 2007

«28» A visitor to Miles Beyond made me aware that the review of The Complete On The Corner Sessions, at the allmusic.com site contains the following passage: "Bob Belden does a painstaking job of annotating this set from its inception in 1972 until the last studio date in 1975. He offers not only dates and players, but also disputes findings found in earlier discographies, and notes that in some instances either nothing took place or the tapes have been lost. He also reveals how little Miles himself plays on certain sessions, and as to whether a session was used as an overdub session or a full-on recording date."

This left the reader understandably confused, given what I've written on this site. The facts are: Bob Belden did NOT provide track by track annotations to The Complete On The Corner Sessions. The two brief essays by him that are included are excerpted from his annotations for the 2000 re-issue of On The Corner. Given that Belden has won a Grammy for previous track annotations, this anomaly is noteworthy in itself. Instead, Michael Cuscuna provides a discography and some track annotations the boxed set, and is credited as doing so. However, Cuscuna is a self-declared stranger to this music, and his annotations are therefore, inevitably, brief and sketchy. They also contain a number of mistakes that the allmusic reviewer didn't spot, for instance the mistitling of the "Turnaround" and "U-Turnaround" tracks.

The allmusic.com review was written by Thom Yurek, and it leaves one wondering whether Thom wrote his review before actually receiving the pre-release boxed set.

«28» The Complete On The Corner Sessions boxed set was earmarked for release September 25 in the US, but production problems have caused a delay of a week. The official US release date is now October 2. The UK and German release dates have been put back to October 29.

~

After reading Julian Cope's wonderful review of Miles' 1973-75 music, and alerting Miles Beyond visitors to it (see the September 2 entry below) I e-mailed Cope, asking him whether he was aware of my book. Here's what I received in reply:
"Cope here. I was alerted to your Miles Beyond two years ago by my guitarist Doggen. It's an excellent read and your understanding of the 1975 punk/funk proto-No Wave stuff was so on the button I was stomping about raising my fist in the air whilst I read it. By the way, Miles Beyond was also highly useful for my new book Japrocksampler, which contained a brief chapter on Japanese jazz as a source of their late-60s enlightenment thing, so you're also in the bibliography (natch!). Apart from the Japanese themselves, were there any others who took up the baton from Miles after the funk ensemble collapsed? I hear the influence in post-punk but that's about it."

«11»Joe Zawinul in action Sad news: this morning Joe Zawinul died in a hospital in Vienna, his birth place. Apparently he had been suffering from cancer. His web site has a beautiful photographic tribute to him. I particularly like the text: "Joe Zawinul was born in Earth time on 07 July 1932 and was born in Eternity time on 11 September, 2007. He, and his music, will continue to inspire!" Amen to that. It was probably formulated and posted by his son Ivan, who also worked as his engineer. Our thoughts go to him and the rest of Joe's family.

I never met Joe in person, but spoke to him a number of times on the phone, and I really enjoyed his larger-than-life joviality, even as it was also clear that he didn't suffer fools gladly. Amen to that too. Zawinul was one of these rare musicians who, like Miles, kept renewing himself and kept sounding modern and relevant, until the very end. His My People album (1996) remains one of my all-time favorite works. Zawinul performed with his band until he checked into the Vienna hospital a month ago.

You can read the article on him that I wrote for Sound On Sound magazine here. As a tribute to Joe, I'll later this week finally post my long article about the making of In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew in which Joe talks at length about his work with Miles.

~

Jan Lohmann jumped to the rescue to answer the question I posed a few days ago. It turns out that a total of four tracks are wrongly titled on the forthcoming On The Corner boxed set. Not only are "Turnaround" and "U-Turnaround" in fact two early takes of "Agharta Prelude," but what's called "Minnie" on the boxed set is in fact something Miles titled "Mr Foster" when it was recorded 1975. The evidence for this is a) Pete Cosey told me in 2000 (he actually whistled the tune for me), b) "Mr Foster" was covered by Al Foster on his eponomously-titled solo album of 1979, and sounds exactly like what's now called "Minnie." To make matters even more confusing, an unrelated track recorded in 1973 is called "Mr Foster" on the OTC boxed set, and is therefore also mistitled.

«3» I'm still trying to establish whether in addition to the wrongly titled "Turnaround" and "U-Turnaround," two more of the tracks on the The Complete On the Corner Sessions have incorrect titles. Does anyone reading this have Al Foster's cover of the track "Mr Foster" which was released on a Japanese label in 1979? (See here for more info). If so, and you're up for sending me the charts, a written out melody, or an MP3, please contact me: mail (at) miles-beyond.com

«2» This is definitely not news, but it's new to me. Still while researching my The Complete On the Corner Sessions article, I stumbled upon one of the most entertaining and passionate reviews of the increasingly inaccurately named holy trinity of Get Up With It, Dark Magus, Agharta, and Pangaea I have ever read. It's written by psychedelic rock eccentric Julian Cope, and the review is out there. "What the jazz-loving Miles Davis fan would consider to have been an affronting (and even uncool) sell-out turns out to have been nothing less than the great Cunt of the Mother opening in a manner which she had rarely opened before. (...) In 1974-75, Miles Davis did so much more than merely glimpse eternity - he actually embraced it." Hallelujah. Embrace, or enter, or whatever your preference, the review here...

August 2007

«29» Bob Belden has recently completed his production and arrangement work on a new album called Miles From India, which features Miles Davis music played by some of the best Indian classical and jazz musicians, teamed up with alumni of the various Miles Davis groups from the past, including John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Cobb, Gary Bartz, Lenny White, Pete Cosey, Vince Wilburn, Chick Corea, Mike Stern and others. Some of the tracks recorded are "In A Silent Way," "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down," "Ife," "Jean Pierre," as well as a McLaughlin original, "Miles From India." I've heard some of the music, and it sounds great. I'll be posting some pix of the session soon, and if I get permission, some streaming audio. The release date is not yet known, but probably towards the end of this year.

While researching an article about the On the Corner boxed set, I had a look at the current page on Miles Davis at Wikipedia, and was shocked. When I last looked, two years ago when writing the article about the Cellar Door boxed set, I thought that the Wikipedia entry, particularly about the electric period, was impressively good. What's there now about the electric period is a mishmash of revelant and irrelevant facts (why is it so important that Miles alledgedly said that he liked John Lydon's singing??), horrendous English, errors of fact, and stuff that appears to reflect the particular tastes of whoever wrote a particular line (writing that Carlos Garnett "highlighted" On the Corner is not only terrible English, but what about Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, etc??). I've already deleted a couple errors of fact, but I don't have the time to spend half a day cleaning up this page. I also am pretty sure that the enthusiasts who currently maintain it will not accept a wholesale re-write by one person. So here's a call to anyone reading this who knows his or her stuff about electric Miles to go in and improve Wikipedia's Miles Davis entry...

Evolution of the Groove cover «28» Last week Sony finally released the EP Evolution of the Groove. It features five Miles tracks, among them "It's About That Time," "Honky Tonk" and "Black Satin," remixed and reinterpreted by Charley Drayton, Vince Wilburn Jr and Pat Thrall, with a contribution by Santana. You can read a review of the EP at the Allmusic site here. Written by Thom Jurek, an electric Miles affectionado, it's very positive. Though when he compares the album to Bill Laswell's Panthalassa his comments are incomprehensible and incorrect. Does anyone know what is meant by: "He [Laswell] was attempting to create a dark sound piece that evoked the spirit of Miles in his own manner of hearing"? You can read the real story of Laswell's creative vision here...

Here's something that could lead to some cognitive dissonance for those who thought that jazz had something to do with renewal and opennes to new ideas... Visit this page, scroll to the bottom and check out Wynton Marsalis' wages, three times as much as the Lincoln Jazz center's CEO! Can these possibly be a reward for Marsalis' self-appointed role as curator of traditional jazz, someone who is intent on excluding all forms of music he doesn't agree with? Certainly Marsalis has done everything in his power to discredit the electric music of Miles Davis, and of others.

The Complete On The Corner Sessions «27» The final track listing of The Complete On The Corner Sessions boxed set is up and can be found here... More details will be added in the next few days, so keep checking back.

 

«10» Yes, more updates finally coming up. I have an advance copy of the On The Corner boxed set here, which is called, you guessed it, The Complete On The Corner Sessions. Kind of like calling a boxed set release of all the post-1967 Beatles material The Complete Sgt. Pepper Sessions. Anyway, it doesn't take away from the great material that's on this set, including one track in which Pete Cosey really lets rip... The only such Miles studio track I've heard. Sony tells me that the official release is still September 18, though it may be pushed back by one or two weeks. date The complete track listing, and other info will follow soon...

July 2007

«03» To all you Miles Davis affectionados who are by now concerned, impatient, annoyed or whatever over the lack of updates on this site: DON'T PANIC! I've been totally pre-occupied with finding a new place to live for my family and and I, and with finally moving house. We're now in the new house here in the South of France, which is great (the only thing that needs some work is the weather, which is cold and wet), but I'm in day 34 waiting for France Telecom to connect our broadband. Today FT called because they were unsure what telephone line to connect the broadband to. After 34 days!!! You get the picture. PLUS I've had a major computer crash 6 weeks ago, and lost a year's worth of data (the back-ups wouldn't load, and I'm currently working on a C drive that's a year old.)

The be and end all of this is that once my office and computer are fully up and running again, hopefully in a couple of weeks, and France Telecom has finally connected the broadband (some time before 2010), there will be some major updates, including pictures of sessions Bob Belden is currently doing with several ex Miles men and Indian musicians. Meanwhile ex-Captain Beefheart guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas was given my book, and had some nice words to say. You can read his observations halfway down this page.

See ya all later...

Februari 2007

«18» Here then, finally, the long-awaited On The Corner & Beyond track listing, including session information. The next update will feature MP3 samples of some of the previously unreleased tracks.

January 2007

«31» 2007 is hardly new anymore, but happy continuation to all you electric Miles Davis lovers anyway!

Here's the good news that you all have been waiting for: the On The Corner boxed set appears on schedule for a release in the fall of this year, PLUS I have the full 6-CD track list, which covers the period 1972-75, and permission to put it on the web.

I'm crazily overwhelmed with stuff concerning life, the universe, and tax returns at the moment, and it'll take a few days before I'll have the time to do the update. So check in later for this track list, which may even have a few MP3 snippets of the new material. The update should also—finally—feature a review of Gregory Miles' book about his father.

November 2006

«24» Today the New York Times publishes a comprehensive update of what's happening with the two in-the-works feature movies about Miles, one with a script written by Quincy Troupe, the other overseen by the Estate. You can find the article here... (you'll need to register with the NYT to be able to read it). The article also contains a brief interview with Jo Gelbard, but strangely no mention of Gregory Davis's brand new book Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis.

Gregory's ode to his father, also mentioned below, landed on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago (thank you Backbeat Books). I've not had the time to read it yet. Leafing through it, there are a number of never-seen-before photographs, and it seems that Davis' oldest son is very honestly trying to chronicle his admiration and love for his father as well as the pain their relationship caused him. I intend to post a review in the coming weeks. In fact, my plan is to review all serious books on Miles currently on the market. There are so many now that some pointers and impressions may be a good idea. Watch this space.

Bob Belden, George Avakian, George Duke and, yes, Teo Macero, are all part of a panel that's scheduled to appear at the International Association for Jazz Education's 34th annual festival, January 10-13, 2007. The topic: Producing Miles Davis. Sounds like something that's not to be missed if one's in New York. Anyone who is going and wants to write a report, please contact me.

Bob Belden informs me that he's working on a project called MILES FROM INDIA, "using the major Indian cats from the various MD bands.... Stern, Scofield, Al Foster, Ron Carter, Chick, Herbie, Bartz, Liebman, Garrett, Erin Davis and Vince so far have agreed to play with the Indian cats..." It's hard to imagine what that would be like, but it certainly should be interesting. This is all the info I have right now. More later.

October

Rockwalk poster«9» A belated mention of the fact that Miles was inducted into Hollywood’s RockWalk on September 28. To the right the poster of this event. For a newsreport on MSNBC with a picture of his son Erin, daughter Cheryl, former wife Frances, and the bronze bust of Miles, click here...


Dark Magus, the book It appears that more and more children of Miles are climbing out of the woodwork and taking an interest in their father's legacy, something that's sure to lead to conflicts with the family members currently in control of the Miles Davis Estate. Below I mentioned Gregory and Peter, and how the former was miffed at not being invited for his father's induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame last April. In addition, Gregory, who is Miles' oldest son, has written a book. Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis will be published by Backbeat Books in November, and promises "a warts-and-all look at the real Miles Davis." On the linked page you can see a recommendation from fellow Backbeat author Philip Freeman. This prompted me to finally post the catalogue of conjecture and errors that's his book Running the Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis.

September

«14»The Swedish painter and poet Henry Denander has made a number of water colors of Miles, some of which you can see on this site, for instance above left. His version of the cover of Miles Beyond is below. Denander has a small exhibition of jazz paintings on his site that's well worth visiting.

Miles Beyond by Henry Denander

«12» New paperback copies of Miles Beyond are now available via this site! Soon this will be the only place where you'll be able to find them. You can order via the Interact page, where you also have the options to buy my CD and make a donation if you appreciate this site.

As most of you will have noted, the Cool & Collected CD is out (see below for more info). There's not much of interest on it for the electric Miles fan, unless you want to check out the remix of 'It's About That Time' by Vince Wilburn, Jr., Pat Thrall and Charley Drayton, also featuring Santana.

August

«30» Ostensibly because the company is moving to another warehouse, Watson-Guptill, who published Miles Beyond on their imprint Billboard Books, have decided to discontinue sales of the book by the end of the year. They've offered to set up a "print on demand" service, meaning that the book will offically remain in print and will be printed as demand arises. Given that the company has done a poor job at promoting and distributing the book, I've decided to take the alternative option, which is to buy as much of the remaining stock as I can afford, and allow the book to go out of print, so that the rights revert back to me. In due course I hope to find another publisher who is willing to re-publish the book, perhaps in an updated version. This may take a couple of years or more.

Until this time Miles Beyond may be hard to find, so I'll soon be selling the book via this web site for a price equivalent of that charged by Amazon for new copies. I'd love to have an idea of how many books I need to order from Watson Guptill, so if you are interested in buying Miles Beyond via this site, please e-mail me without delay at <mail@miles-beyond.com>, making sure you mention "Miles" somewhere in the subject heading. Obviously, if you want, I'm happy to sign the book!

On an entirely different note, some good news: it appears that Bob Belden is back on the job of completing the On The Corner boxed set! More news about this, and about the Evolution of the Groove CD soon.

July 2006

«17» Just back from the Veneto Jazz 2006 festival that commemmorates Miles's 80th birth year, and is organised in the vicinity of Venice, Italy, where I took part in the below-mentoined symposium. The symposium went pretty well, and I'll post a few pix in the next few days. I'll also look into posting my talk as an MP3 file. What I want to convey here is my surprise at the scope of the festival. It didn't only include the Miles symposium and several Miles exhibitions, but also concerts by former Miles men such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, and Jimmy Cobb. Keith Jarrett (Venice, 19 July) is still to follow. Plus there are concerts by various other artists, among them Youssou N'Dour and even Enrico Merlin's Tiger Dixie Band. The festival runs until September 22 and is well worth checking out.

«5» During July and August there's a celebration of Miles's 80th birthday near Venice, Italy, organised by Veneto Jazz. On the 15th there's a Miles Davis symposium with guest speakers Jimmy Cobb, Ira Gitler, Enrico Merlin, Maurizio Comandini, Luca Bragalini, and yours truly.

There's no new insider information at this stage about the Evolution of the Groove album, so whether it will indeed see the light of day later this year is anyone's guess. There's a lot of turmoil within SonyBMG, and sadly the On The Corner boxed appears as far away as ever. The only solid plan appears to be the release of a compilation CD by the end of the summer, with at least one remix. The CD is to be called Cool & Collected, and features jazz tracks like 'So What,' 'Bye Bye Blackbird,' and 'Seven Steps to Heaven.' The electric era is rather neglected, with nothing from recordings released in the 1970s. All that's included are two 1980s pop tunes, 'Time After Time' and 'Human Nature,' plus a 3:40 remix of 'It's About That Time,' from In A Silent Way (1969). The remix is produced by Vince Wilburn, Jr., Pat Thrall and Charley Drayton, and additional musicians include Wilburn (drums and programming), Pat Thrall (guitar and programming), and Carlos Santana.

CNN also has some news concerning the MD Estate's plans for Miles's 80th birthday year: Miles Davis: Still defining cool, long after death. "This year, his estate is finding ways to reinvent Davis and let the music he composed continue to evolve." God help us all...

May 2006

«26»Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926, and would have been 80 today. To celebrate, check out, for instance, the BBC's extensive and excellent radio coverage, Miles Davis At 80.

«18» OK, here's the current SonyBMG insider story. Reports suggest that there's a war going on within the company between the Sony side and the BMG side, which the latter is winning. This apparently means that the accountants have taken over, one of whom has stipulated that all jazz titles are now subject to draconian accounting rules that leave only compilations unaffected. This far-reaching measure led an informant to complain that the accountants were in effect "wiping out an entire music genre... the jazz album."

With regards to Miles releases the result is that as things stand, only the below-mentioned 80th anniversary album is still definitely on the cards. The release of the Evolution Of The Groove album is uncertain, as is the release of the 1967 Stockholm live DVD. Work on the On The Corner & Beyond boxed set has been halted.

I'll report back when there's more news, and when there's clarity on whether there's anything that Miles fans can do to to support the music lovers within SonyBMG, and make sure that the accountants stick to what they're hired for, which is to (ac)count. Perhaps the radio interview with Bob Belden (see below), will provide more answers.

Something I forgot to mention a few weeks back, perhaps because it seemed too self-congratulatory, but George Cole, author of The Last Miles, made me aware that Miles Beyond was named as number three in a list of the Web's Top 5 Miles Davis sites in the London Times of April 29th. Nice. Preceding where the official Miles Davis site, and Peter Losin's site (see Links page.) Cole's site made it to number 4, and Mike Zwerin's site Sons Of Miles was number 5.

«16» Bob Belden lets it be known that he will be doing a live interview with Ted Panken on WKCR-FM, Columbia University, this Thursday, May 18, 1-3pm EST. Music will be played from his 8 CDs since 2001, and, adds Belden, tellingly, "You know me... an open mike..." So if Panken asks the right questions, Belden may reveal details of the goings-on at SonyBMG. The live stream can be found here....

«15» To those who have checked in regularly in recent months, hoping to read my Cellar Door article, keep the faith! One thing that has held them up is life with babies.... the other reason is that I have yet to be paid by the German and French magazines that had this article as their cover story many months ago. Fingers crossed, read my lips, etc, the liner notes will be posted in the next week or so...

In addition there will be some very fresh and not so good news of accountants reportedly having taken over at SonyBMG and having ordered the abandonment of a whole slew of jazz releases, including, quite possibly, the On The Corner and 73-76 boxed sets. I need to check a few more facts before giving more details. But if correct, perhaps this site will start a campaign similar to the freefiona.com one: enter freemiles.com. Instead of sending Sony apple-related things, we could, well, stand en masse on the corner, or something...

The next update will also have details of a Miles Davis conference in July in Italy, that promises to be a cracker...

April 2006

«4» For those of you that can't get enough of the controversies surrounding the Miles Davis family's handling of Miles's musical legacy, the Soul Patrol web site contains a 2-hour interview with the family. Topics discussed include the delays of the release of the Cellar Door boxed set, why they parted company with lawyer Peter Shukat, new Miles releases, and so on. The interview can be found on this page.
It appears in the context of Soul Patrol celebrating Miles's induction in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, and the site also contains a page with an overview of Miles's electric music, both written and in streaming audio.

More repercussions, perhaps, from the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame induction... could it be that Stanley Crouch has finally decided to ease off on his vendetta against Miles Davis's electric music? An article by him in Slate, Miles Davis, Romantic Hero: Assessing the trumpeter's legacy as he enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sees him only addressing Miles's performance of My Funny Valentine. Oddly, in the context of the trumpeter's elevation to the status of rock deity, there's not a word about his electric period.

March 2006

«14» One positive aspect of Miles' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday is that it has stirred up some intense debate, generating, for instance, two articles in the New York Times: yesterday A Jazz Legend Enshrined as a Rock Star?, and today even an editorial: Miles Davis, Genre Bender. (Access to these links requires registering with the NYT, which is simple and seems harmless. I did it a few years ago and have to date not received any e-mails from them.)

«13» Miles Davis is now a certified rock 'n roll artist, as he's today (March 13) inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at the same time as the likes of Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols. Whether this matters depends on one's view on awards in general and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame award in particular. (The Sex Pistols don't think much of it, for they refused to come to the ceremony, calling the R&RHoF institution "urine in wine.") One wonders what Miles would have made of it. One thing is for sure, the induction once again confirms something that was already known, which is that the rock establishment doesn't seem to have any problems acknowledging the merits of the second half of Miles's career.

On the same subject, but a sadder note, an article recently appeared chronicling the troubled relationship of Miles's son Gregory with his father and family. Apparently he's not invited to the R&RHoF induction event: "Son Can't Afford a Ticket to the Party." For some reason a direct link to the article doesn't work, but go to the Village Voice web site, search for "Miles Davis," and click on the "Riff Raff" article called "Run the Voodoo Down."

Talking about Miles's sons, news has emerged of another son, named Peter, born to Miles and a Detroit prostitute. DNA has confirmed his relationship to Miles as father/son. Peter is a visual artist who lives in New York City. Apparently he never asked Miles for money and the two were always friendly towards one another. Rumour has it that he's now seeking input into the affairs of the Miles Davis Estate.

March 2006

«2»Surprisingly, given what's written below, Bob Belden is back on his Miles Davis job with Sony Legacy, and currently researching and compiling the On The Corner boxed set. Apparently there's enough for a five CD-set of sessions from June-December 1972, and Belden is therefore pushing for a separate "Studio 1973-76" box. Fingers crossed he stays in his job and the sets get realized and released soon.

Miles Davis in BerlinEspecially for those that can't wait for the 73-76 set... here's an excellent bit of video (well the music is excellent, the images leave a bit to be desired) for download from the beginning of a concert Miles gave in Berlin on November 1st, 1973.

The m4v file plays in iTunes or Quicktime.


February 2006

«15» A leak confirms plans for the Evolution of the Groove album to be released some time later this year, and a 2007 release for the On The Corner & Beyond boxed set. In addition, there's talk at Legacy of an 80th anniversary album with a selection of Miles' most popular tracks and of a DVD with a 1967 Stockholm concert for release in the next half year or so.

«8» Apparently Sony has commissioned a commemorative album to celebrate Miles' 80th birthday in May. It is to be produced by Richard Seidel, known for his involvement in quite a few more traditional jazz recordings. The album's working title is The Evolution of the Groove, and, sit down for this, is said to consist of remixes, including a remix of the second quintet's "Freedom Jazz Dance" by one Vince Wilburn. Those that have followed the news updates on this site, and read the story of the aborted The Last Word boxed set are now likely to have have eyebrows racing to the ceiling. Bob Belden, who produced, or, as some have it, compiled, all Miles Legacy releases to date, has been dropped. Presumably this is part of the fall-out of the whole 5-year brouhaha surrounding the Cellar Door boxed set. Sony Legacy is very tightlipped about the whole situation, and about The Evolution of the Groove, and the only thing that can be inferred from what they do say is that the 1-CD album is unlikely to see the light of day in the first half of this year.

Something that is also very likely a result of the behind-the-scenes conflict surrounding the Cellar Door boxed set is the sacking of long-standing legal representatives for the Miles Davis Estate, Shukat, Arrow, Hafer & Weber. Peter Shukat has long been the executor of the Estate, and the company was given notice early this year that their services were no longer required. Apparently Darryl Porter now represents the Estate, but other than that he's on the West Coast we have been unable to find out anything more about him. We have no insider information on what went on here, but the story of The Last Word, in which Shukat and Weber were happy to cut a deal, but were later rather embarrassingly called back to heel by Vince Wilburn, suggests something about the relationship between the two parties. In addition, Shukat is also the lawyer of Adam Holzman, the original co-producer (with Belden) of the Cellar Door boxed set. The moment that the Estate, or rather Wilburn, were at odds with Holzman and Belden, Shukat clearly had a conflict of interests.

With all this mess going on, it's not surprising to learn that 2007 is now coined as the most likely release date of the On The Corner & Beyond boxed set, that covers the period 1972-1975. It's produced, or perhaps 'compiled,' by Bob Belden, so this may lead to more legal wrangling and hence delays. Legacy representatives are again tightlipped, but claim that a 2006 release date is not altogether ruled out.

The current issue of the German jazz magazine Jazzthetic features my article on the Cellar Door boxed set. I'll be posting the English version of this article on this site in March.

"Whaddabouda 1970s live videos??" I now hear you ask. Have patience... some will be posted here shortly!

December

«22» Several Americans have reported to me today that they bought the Cellar Door on the 20th. Sony Legacy insists that the official release date is the 27th, so presumably this means that some shops have begun selling their stock early, making it possible, for some at least, to enjoy Christmas 2005 and the Cellar Door at the same time!

Also received my promotional copy of the Cellar Door today, and the belowmentioned sticker can be found on page 94 of the booklet, where the word "produced" in the line "BOX SET PRODUCED BY ADAM HOLZMAN AND BOB BELDEN" has been replaced by "compiled."

«15» It looks like the December 27 release date for the Cellar Door is holding and that the 6-CD boxed set will soon finally see the light of day. It does indeed sport a sticker saying that Adam Holzman and Bob Belden compiled the set, or something along those lines, instead of that they produced it, as it says in the booklet. The artwork and booklet contents remain otherwise unchanged, and so Bob Belden remarks, tongue lightly in cheek, "This should be on all websites....'remove the glued sticker and it will reveal the true source of the delay.' As to my request, the glue used for the sticker is the weakest made, so the little sticker just comes off..."

One wonders whether this was all worth it for Vince Wilburn. Or perhaps his strategy was a convoluted marketing ploy after all, for it certainly drew a lot of attention to the set... :) Whatever way, everyone can enjoy their Christmas in peace, as one should, and look forward to listening to the Cellar Door immediately afterwards.

For Dutch-speaking visitors, JazzNu in The Netherlands has just published the Dutch translation of my article, that previously appeared in JazzTimes (US), JazzMan (France), and Musica Jazz (Italy). There's one more European magazine planning to publish this article. A couple of months after they have done so, I will post the English-language version of the piece on this site.

In addition, I'd like to briefly address one question that I have repeatedly received, namely, "do the Cellar Door and Jack Johnson boxed sets make Live-Evil redundant?" My answer is, not really. First of all, the Cellar Door stuff was remixed, so the live material on Live-Evil offers a different sound picture. In addition, the latter is full of often dramatic edits by Teo Macero. Love or hate these edits (or the old mix), Live-Evil is a work of art that Miles heard and approved of.

The double album is a blend of studio and live material compiled and edited by Macero, and can in many ways be understood as a collaboration between Miles, his musicians, and Macero. It is also, arguably, a concept album, assembled in the studio and influenced by studio production ideas and perpectives that were alive in 1971. By contrast, the Cellar Door is a historic live document of what one particular band was up to over four nights in December 1970, mixed, as you can read in my JazzTimes article, in line with the aesthetics of the time.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, enjoy the Cellar Door set, and all best wishes for 2006!

November

The latest news in the Cellar Door boxed set saga: a new release date has been set for December 27. I'm still waiting for official confirmation from Sony Columbia, but given the events of the last months, that would hardly set things in stone. The problem remains the Miles Davis Estate, and mainly Miles's nephew, Vince Wilburn. A few weeks before the original release date last September he wanted the credits of Adam Holzman and Bob Belden changed from 'produced by' to 'compiled by.' Understandably, this was not something these two, or Sony, were happy about. Moreover, the Cellar Door set had been more than five years in the making, and Belden's and Holzman's involvement must have been clear for ages, so the timing of the demand reeked of a hidden agenda.

When I asked one of my informants, who is very close to the fire, what's behind Wilburn's demand, he simply replied, 'God knows.' There are reports that it's driven by Wilburn's personal resentment against some of those involved in the making of the Cellar Door, including Holzman. My own, entirely speculative, take on it is that Wilburn has a love/hate relationship with his uncle and his music. On the one hand he owes his entire income and reputation to his uncle (what noteworthy things has Wilburn done on his own since 1987?)—on the other Miles hurt Wilburn badly when he sacked him from his band in 1987. By all accounts Wilburn never fully recovered from this—see the story of The Last Word, the Warners boxed set that was repeatedly delayed and in the end torpedoed by the Estate, alledgedly with Wilburn at the controls. Why the rest of Miles's family, including his son Erin, puts up with Wilburn obstructing Miles releases nobody really knows.

Certainly Sony has been reluctant to put up with Wilburn's last-minute changes of heart, but while the company has the full rights to the recording and can do what it wants with it, the company apparently feels that it can't simply go against the wishes of the Estate. (That's not even talking about the physical threats that Wilburn is said to have made against some of those involved.)

Whatever way, initially a compromise was found, whereby a sticker would be added to the already printed boxed set, saying 'compiled by Bob Belden and Adam Holzman.' This led to the November 22 release date. Then Wilburn again threw, as it was put, a 'kibosh.' The exact nature of the new compromise that has led to the planned late December release date is unclear, but probably involves a fresh art work re-print.

Of course it's possible that the Estate will have another last-minute change of mind, which would spell the end of the Cellar Door. That would be very bad news indeed, for, as one informant told me, if the Cellar Door doesn't come out, it may well mean the end of any more new Miles Davis releases, and would almost certainly terminate the boxed sets series. So fingers crossed that common sense, and respect for Miles's music and legacy, prevail.

October

Earlier this month, Seth Rothstein, VP of Columbia Legacy, confirmed the release date of the Cellar Door as November 22 in the US. A week later someone closely involved e-mailed me with the message that "Vince Wilburn has put a kibosh on the whole thing again." Wilburn, Miles' nephew and a drummer in his uncle's band 1985-1987, is the leading voice in the Miles Davis Estate. He was also the person behind the first delay of the boxed set release. The latest word is that the release is abandoned altogether, but Columbia Legacy tells me today (October 28), that they continue to be confident that the set will come out, and that they are still hoping for a pre-Christmas release. Please watch this space for official news, and more details on the story behind all this, insofar as they can be revealved without compromising my sources. (More information on the set below.)


September

Frustrating news on the Cellar Door Sessions 1970 boxed set: its release date, originally earmarked for September 27, has been put on hold. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the problem involves the Miles Davis Estate, in a story not dissimilar to that of The Last Word. No new release date is set, so fingers crossed that any difficulties and differences are sorted out soon. Watch this space for a new release date, or, if the set doesn't come out, the behind-the-scenes story of why not. Meanwhile, my article on the Cellar Door has been published in JazzTimes magazine in the US. Italian, French, German, and Dutch versions are to follow soon.

JazzRocketScience Adam Holzman informs me of the October release of his latest project, the album JazzRocketScience, featuring him and his band Brave New World, on Nagel Heyer Records. More news and a review soon. (Btw, Holzman is not the informant mentioned above.)


~

August

Fusion for Miles Tribute albums are normally exercises in blandness, but the album Fusion for Miles: A Guitar Tribute, released on Tone Center Records in the USA, and distributed via Mascot Records in Europe, is surprisingly good. Featuring Mike Stern, Bill Connors, Bill Frisell, Eric Johnson, Pat Martino, Jimmy Herring, and several others, and with an all-star band consisting of Vinnie Colaiuta, Alphonso Johnson, Larry Goldings, Jeff Richman, and Dave Liebman, the results vary, but rarely drop below the decent, and occasionally soar into fret-burning transcendence.


Previously unknown Miles Davis titbit: legendary Canadian producer, guitarist, singer and song writer Daniel Lanois tells me that he spent some time with Miles in 1990, apparently planning the recording of a new Miles album that was to be produced by Lanois. Given Lanois' impressive pedigree, with production credits including Brian Eno, Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, U2, Robbie Robertson, and Emmylou Harris, it's a pity that nothing ever came of these plans.

~

Cellar Door boxed setThe release of the long-awaited Cellar Door boxed set is finally imminent! It features six of the eight sets Miles Davis played at the Cellar Door in Washington DC, December 16-19, 1970, with a band consisting of Gary Bartz on saxophones, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, Michael Henderson on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Airto Moreira on percussion. Heavily edited sections of the concert of December 19th, with John McLaughlin on guitar as a guest musician, were previously released as part of the Live-Evil album. But until now, the Bartz-Jarrett-Henderson-DeJohnette-Moreira line-up on its own had never been heard on official releases.

The forthcoming boxed set has extensive liner notes with statements by all the musicians, as well as producers Bob Belden and Adam Holzman. Keith Jarrett writes: "I had forgotten about them [the CD recordings], or thought they were somehow sonically maligned. I remembered that I had a lot of Fender Rhodes problems (when didn't I? It was even a problem when it worked perfectly) and I must have just put it out of my head. But the band was completely resurrected on these tapes, and I couldn't believe it. (...) Almost 35 years later, I find myself writing notes about the first release of this music, and although I don't have time to write, Miles and the band deserve it. His playing is so strong here that I need not comment on it. If it doesn't knock your socks off, you aren't wearing any."

In October, a 6-page article by yours truly on the Cellar Door boxed set will appear in JazzTimes in the US, followed by translations in Jazzthetic in Germany, Jazzman in France, Musica Jazz in Italy, and Jazz Nu in Holland. Here's a snippet from the article:
"'Exciting' is an apt adjective for the band consisting of Miles Davis, Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, and Airto Moreira. Or, as Michael Henderson put it, "we were vicious. This band was on the edge and off the rails." The Cellar Door boxed set is a momentous release for all lovers of Miles Davis and electric funk, or electric jazz, or whatever one wants to call it. It follows the release late last year of
Miles Electric, the stunning DVD of Miles Davis' performance at the Isle of Wight in August 1970, with a band consisting of Miles, Bartz, Chick Corea, Jarrett, Dave Holland, DeJohnette, and Moreira. Taken together, both releases may, with some luck, finally dissolve any of the remaining controversy that still appears to surround Miles Davis' forage into jazz-rock."

April

On April 4, 2005, three Miles-related events took place in the UK. On this day Columbia began the UK re-release of a series of Miles Davis albums as mid-priced CDs, all beautifully repackaged and remastered, to mark the 50th anniversary of Miles signing with the label. At present A Tribute To Jack Johnson, featuring new liner notes by Bill Milkowski, is the only release from the electric era in this anniversary series.

~

On the same day, a week-long art exhibition opened in London, featuring 125 drawings Miles had made for a German dancer called Giulia Trojer, who was his lover during the early 1980s. Also shown were a number of the paintings Miles had worked on with Jo Gelbard, his romantic companion and artistic collaborator from the mid 1980s until the end of his life. After a ten-year legal tussle with the Miles Davis Estate, Gelbard has finally gained ownership of these paintings and the right to show them in public.

Art promotor Keith Denney, who had acquired the drawings from Trojer in the late '90s, organised an impressive publicity campaign for this exhibition, with extensive press coverage in the UK media. Jo Gelbard became the figurehead of this campaign, featuring in breakfast and lunch time BBC television shows, the BBC 6 o'clock London television news, and an Associated Press television interview. She can be seen in the pictures below, interviewed by the BBC on the left and AP on the right, with Denney on the far right.

Jo Gelbard and BBC TV news crewJo Gelbard, AP representative and Keith Denney

Two of the paintings made by Miles and Jo Gelbard on view at the exhibition were particularly noteworthy. The first was the painting that the two made as a backdrop for the legendary La Villette concert on July 10, 1991, that featured many musicians that Miles had played with in the past, such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, and John McLaughlin. The thumbnail of this painting is on the left. The other painting is the last one Miles ever worked on, before he fell into a coma on Labor Weekend in September 1991, and died on September 28. The painting, below right, emanates a sense of foreboding, fear and horror in the face of death.

La Villette backdropMiles and Jo Gelbard's last painting together

~

The third event of note during this week was the publication of a new book on Miles Davis, The Last Miles, The Music Of Miles Davis, 1980-1991 by George Cole. Where Miles Beyond dedicates a sizeable 70.000 words to this period, The Last Miles manages at a rough guess about 300.000 words. Cole interviewed almost every musician Miles played with during this period, plus sound and tour managers and so on, though not any of Miles's romantic partners.

The combination of an exhibition, CD re-releases, and a book, also generated much interest in British newspapers and magazines. Jazzwise magazine featured an extensive interview with Gelbard, as did the Daily Telegraph. Several other newspapers had news items, while The Independent had several features, one of them a long appreciation of Miles's 1980 music, written by Sholto Byrnes. You can read this article here...   (Please note: while engagingly positive, the article sadly contains a great number of factual mistakes.)

~

March

Agharta with US coverHaving been largely ignored for over twenty-five years, Miles's 1975 album Agharta quickly gained widespread recognition following the publication of Miles Beyond in 2001. One striking example was in the March issue of Mojo, in which the rock magazine presented an only slightly tongue-in-cheek list of "The 50 Most Out There Albums Of All Time." There were, of course, some silly entries (Barbra Streisand?), but overal it was a respectable list, featuring albums by John Zorn, Pink Floyd, Scott Walker, Frank Zappa, My Bloody Valentine, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, and Funkadelic. Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica was at the top spot, Sun Ra's Space Is The Place the runner up, and Agharta clocked in at number three. It may seem overly self-congratularly to put this down to the influence of Miles Beyond, but the album reviewer, David Sheppard, quotes several facts and insights from the book, and caps this by calling Agharta "Miles' final frontier," which, by a curious coincidence, is the very title of the Miles Beyond chapter in which the album is featured. In any case, cheers to Mojo for going were no mainstream rock mag had gone before, and putting Agharta at the heart of the greatest experimental rock, funk and jazz albums of all time.

(For another example of how Agharta and Miles Beyond have infiltrated the rock world, click here...)

 

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