Celebrating the heavenly birthday of a jazz titan with a playlist of our faves from his final decade
Sir Miles Dewey Davis would have turned 95 had he missed the elevator trip up to Heaven on September 28, 1991.
And while most publications would rather wax philosophic about obvious faves like Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew when commemorating the life of this brilliant and intense musician and integral culture figure in the evolution of Black American Life, I’ve been spending the last five years or so exploring his final decade of studio work. Though many jazz snobs will cite this period as the trumpet master’s weakest, now as we approach the 30th anniversary of his passing its high time this period gets the admiration it deserves. Especially when you consider just how much the influence of Prince, Michael Jackson and Scritti Politti on the Miles sound in the 80s are so inspiring to this new generation of pop musicians.
“As I look back on my time with Miles, I feel more and more gratitude for having had the experience of knowing and performing with him,” Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, who played on such underrated Miles LPs as 1984’s Decoy and 1985’s You’re Under Arrest, wrote on his Facebook page today. “When I listen to his groundbreaking body of work, I realize how much more I have to learn from him. What he said to me the last time I saw him is still true. Though I’d left the band years before he said, ‘You know Darryl, you’re still my bass player.’ I said, ‘Yeah Chief. Always.’ Happy Birthday Chieftain. Peaceful, powerful journey. 🙏🏿❤️🎂”
“Today would have been Miles Davis’s 95 birthday!,” writes keyboardist Jason Miles, who worked alongside Miles during his Warner Bros. years, on his Facebook page in reference to the personalized gold record of the 1986 LP Tutu given to him by Davis. “I’ll never forget when Gordon Meltzer called me and said that Miles had something he wanted to give me and I should come over. I was truly blown away in a big way when I went to see Miles at the Essex House and he gave this to me. I was so flattered and humbled that he thought enough about me to get me this..it’s one of the most treasured things I have from my many years in this business. Some great artists that I’ve worked with have given me platinum and gold disks but somehow this is the most special one…Happy Birthday Chief!”
If you haven’t already done so, press play on the playlist Rock & Roll Globe has created exclusively in honor of the 95th Birthday of Sir Miles and embrace this most overlooked period in his illustrious career.