The many musical faces of Mr. Miles Davis?

It was in the late 80's; I was in a funereal limousine, in Mr. Davis's hometown, and someone mentioned his name. An elderly lady chimed in, "I remember Miles, he was the little dark skinned kid who used to always try to blow the trumpet". There was total silence, a very long silence I might add. Since she was the most grieved in the limo, there was no point in trying to bring her up to date. Mr. Davis's name was not mentioned the rest of the day.
Miles music has many faces, which one do you prefer.
On "Star People" on the first half, he plays traditional St. Louis blues, very nice. Don't know if it is preferred, but was a nice variation.
He had a Ferrari, and lived in Malibu. The cops would always pull him over, not because he was speeding, but because he was an African-American in a Ferrari in Malibu. Another interesting facet of the great prism of race relations in this country.
This man was a genius. There is not one stylistic form that he covered that was not light years ahead of the pack. A man so ahead of his time that I dont think we have caught up to him yet. I dont think even now, most jazz historians or critics fully grasp his power and influence over all music, not just jazz. His influence is huge.Two Words-Bitches Brew.
I prefer the Miles of the Second Great Quintet, but the First Great Quintet was incredible too. Thanks for keeping the focus on the greatest.
I took a day to think about this and I guess the style (period) I prefer is mood dependent. That is, what mood I'm in. I agree with the comments on his genius, and influence.
Decoy, Tutu, Kind of Blue, Time After Time, You're Under Arrest, Sketches of Spain, Doo Bop. So far, those are what I have; my brother in law is having me listen to Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, and Zimbabwe to broaden my perspective. So much to listen to, so little time.
I do not doubt that Miles was pulled over because he is a black man driving a red Ferrari. I myself numorous times was pulled over while driving a red benz from Florida to Atlanta and I am not black. Theres something about a RED sports cars that attracts police activity.
I enjoy many of Miles' musical faces fairly equally, up to Bitches Brew. Though if I was forced to pick a favorite album it would have to be Kind of Blue.

A brilliant and talented artist. Not just his playing, but the whole package: playing, sensiblility, communication, band member choices, musical choices, musical innovation and direction, durablility, flexibility, confidence, etc. One of those beings who comes along, not just once in a lifetime, but once in existence. Like Michaelangelo, artists who succeed brilliantly in expressing humanity in their art form like no other, touching the depths of your soul. So utterly talented, it is as if they are beings from another planet. IMO, Miles is the greatest overall contributor to jazz music who ever lived (and ever shall). Culminating with Bitches Brew, the album that both celebrates and signifies the death of Miles' jazz, and for the most part jazz in general, to me. At that point, for me, Miles burst like a super nova, and I find the remainder of his catalogue unlistenable. And hear little innovation from others since. At least innovation I find interesting and enjoyable. And for that, I both love and hate Bitches Brew.
Of the Miles Davis albums I have heard ( a small percent admittedly), "Milestones" is my favorite.
Check out this review

Having listened to everything from his early work as a side man to his final works I would say it is a bit extreme to dismiss everything after Bitches Brew. If your only reference for this latter period are some of his live albums like "Live at the Filmore East" then I would agree, but later on when he got into more of an electronic funk with albums like "Tutu" I think he came back into his own. Look for a DVD "Live in Paris" from that period and watching the performance really allows you to appreciate what he was doing at the time. If you are music lover and enjoy jazz in the post bebop era then there is much to be enjoyed in these later recordings. At the end of the day it is all personal preference and there are no right or wrong opinions. I happen to enjoy most all of it. I understand there are those who do not.

Umm...I believe Miles drove a yellow Ferrari.
Nicotico, google shows miles with a red ferrari, although he may have also owned a yellow one before that one.
Foster_9, I appreciate your contribution to this thread. Since our tastes are in harmony, I know you will dig Chico Freeman "The Emissary", if you don't already have it. I dug that Miles you hipped me to.
This is my first post here. I couldn't resist saying something about Miles.

There are very few musicians that have taught me as much about music as Miles. While I don't like all of his music, he has exposed me to styles and ways of playing that have opened my mind to even more great music. He is one of those musicians that I can trust to take me on an adventure every time. It can get bumpy at times, but I enjoy the ride.

For me, like most, it started with "Kind Of Blue", playing on my Grandfather's turntable as a child.

Many years later I started building my own "Miles Collection" when the remastered CDs were released. I immediately was drawn to "Porgy & Bess" and "Sketches Of Spain", Gil Evens is brilliant and worked so well with Miles.

After some warming up I went on to like "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew". "In A Silent Way" is one of my favorites. I have never listened to "Bitches Brew" all the way through, but it's on my list.

One of my music treasures is the box set of "Live At The Plugged Nickel". I think I played nothing but that box set for a month or two in 2008.

Thank you for sharing....
Like Hellofidelity and others, I started with Kind of Blue, and I still go back to it (all the time actually). But recently I've been listening more to A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Live-Evil and On The Corner, which came just after Bitches Brew. If you like Bitches Brew, give those three a try - they really throw down some groove! Very different than, say, "Kind of Blue Miles."
Unfortunately I only got to catch one show near the end. Great! but not as mind altering as Agharta, On The Corner or Jack Johnson. Remove these three and we have a big holy grail level crater in the land of outside psychedelic jazzrock goodness.
The phrase, "unintended consequences" is always associated with something bad. In Mr. Davis's case it turned into something good. Each time he changed styles of music, he gained new fans. While his old fans, like me, didn't approve of his new music; we still bought his CD's. Whether we did this out of habit, curiosity, or the fact that it was "uncool" not to have Miles latest CD, I am not sure; but at any rate it helped his financial bottom line and proved to be a good "unintended consequence"
His childhood was so prophetic, he never quit being "The little kid who was always trying to blow the trumpet".
I think for Cicely Tyson, "unintended consequences" turned out to be......not such a good thing.
I mentioned in another post(thread)" A Tribute To Jack Johnson ". His music followed his moods through out his life and career.

I'd agree. I recently finished reading his autobiography...he was hard on women in general..and not overly kind to himself, his body at least.

IMHO he was something special. I have somewhere around 20-25 of his cds. He was a product of his environment (40-50's America) and of himself. Much of his mental & physical pain was self-inflicted..but attributed by him to others. Overall he changed the world in a good way.
Miles has as many facets as a brilliant diamond. It's not until after you have seen them all can you appreciate his genious.
You got to give it to the man. He was in perfect position to have done a more commercially viable thing, ala Wes Montgomery, during the 60's. Miles Davis could have easily out Botti'ed Chris Botti during those radical 60's producing hot cool commercially successful records, but no, Miles remained utterly honest and true to himself, whilst continually reinventing himself. And for many in the black community Miles was an Icon, especially throughout the radical 60's for he represented the face of an angry black man that took no gruff from no white folk. Well, that's simply how it was 50 years ago. It's almost impossible to speak about Miles or his music without recognizing his anger. No one messed with Miles. In any event, Miles Davis, and others deserve a lot of credit for having endured it all, without selling out.
My fave Miles is his work with the 2 great quintets he had.I'm leaning towards the prestige albums as my fave output from him, but can't get into Bitches Brew. I find it all over the shop and much prefer A Tribute To Jack Johnson to that work.


A little Miles Davis trivia: At the beginning of this thread, I mentioned an elderly lady who remembered Miles as "The little dark sinned kid who was always trying to blow the trumpet"

Miles grew up three block from where that lady lived in a large house with an extended family which included a music teacher and a musician.

Miles, from my "kid point of view", was strange; where ever he could learn something about music, that's where he went; consequently, that lady saw an awful lot of the little kid trying to blow the trumpet.

Believe it or not, she knew next to nothing about
"Miles the jazz giant".

More Miles trivia: that remark "I remember Miles, he was the little dark skinned kid who was always trying to blow the trumpet", it had absolutely no racial connotations, it was simply a fact of observation.

She would have seen Miles through the screen door when he knocked. "Hi Miles, come on in". After exchanging greetings, he would walk down the hallway to the kitchen where the musician was cleaning his horn, and the music teacher was possibly going over some music. They would welcome Miles and pick up where they left off. All of this was quite informal, Miles was like another member of the family; that neighborhood was one big family and he was a member.

If Miles were alive today, he would probably cherish this "reminiscence" over most others. This was at a time when he was free as a bird flitting from tree to tree, and he was loved; not because he was rich and famous, but simply because he was Miles.