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Every great artist leaves
prints on your soul.
Bird & Miles
Listening to Bird (music recorded in the 1940s, listened to by this kid in the 1950s, I’d hardly heard Miles. (Bird was improvising melody; Miles was improvising counter-melody!) Listening to the same cuts now, I hear them both.
Brando could look both divine and brutal at the same moment, or only microseconds apart. Miles can look gorgious, or sociopath, brilliant, or evil … all at once.
By the late ‘Fifties I was listening to as much Bach as anything else: as I long continued to. These days I prefer to just play, however poor my accomplishment is at the keyboard after a late-middle-age start. Bach, spirituals, folk and pop — compositions by Miles, Duke … Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter … Rota, Jobim … If I do put something on the machine, it’s just Miles and more Miles. Though sometimes a little Wagner.
For me, not too many Western musicians deserve to have their shadows visible beside Bach’s. (For non-Western music, check out Abdul Alaudin Khan, Ravi Shanker, Oum Kalthoum … Try listening to waynos from Chile.) For modern Western music, I see less and less outside Wagner’s shadow. Total musicianship I’m talking about. Prokofieff is one. Miles is another.
Miles’ Jack Johnson cover image
(There’s a credit there to a Julian Alexander: the photographer? the layout man? All credit, wherever it’s due.)
2012 01 22 These days one can listen to much of what I refer to online. Last month I heard Oum Kalthoum for the first time since some Arabs loaned me a cassette in 1968 or 69. Spotify.com however found not one of the Folkways waynos I used to be addicted to. I still have the LP: old, scratchy, dirty, no needle to play it with, my hifi components not even set up: neither is my MIDI equipment! I just play the keyboard: and a third rate keyboard at that, the switch on my Roland having gone the way of entropy. And now, my Mac is too old for Spotify.com to bother to talk to.
K., like my life, has always had references to Miles, all over.
@ K. c. 1996