Reviews that mention Miles Davis

December 11, 2015

Lest We Forget

Gunther Schuller
By Ken Waxman

During his long professional career Gunther Schuller, who died this past June and was born November 22, 1925, was a French horn player, composer, conductor, author, university professor, record company and orchestra founder, festival administrator and conservatory president, whose associates included Aaron Copeland, John Lewis and Charles Mingus. But for certain segments of the music world he’s best-known for a phrase he coined during a 1957 lecture at Brandeis University: Third Stream. While his idea of uniting the streams of jazz and classical music into a tributary that melded influences from both was initially greeted with derision, nearly a half-century later cross over between the two is increasingly common. MORE

January 6, 2015


René Urtreger
By Ken Waxman

Nearly 60 years on, French piano jazz master René Urtreger is probably still best-known internationally as part of the Miles Davis quintet that recorded the universally praised soundtrack and subsequent LP of Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pour l'échafaudé in 1957. But Urtreger, 80, who this month plays his first-ever New York gig as a leader, has had a celebrated and far-ranging career in his home country. One of France’s original modern jazzman, who cut his first LP as leader at 21 (Joue Bud Powell Barclay), Urtreger has over the years played with countless jazz stars, worked with variety artists, composed film and theatre music, and is most likely the only jazz pianist to be honored as Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, which took place in 2010. MORE

August 6, 2011

Lest We Forget:

Ray Bryant (1931-2011)
By Ken Waxman

Everything played by pianist Ray Bryant, who died at 79 in early June, was suffused with the blues. In fact his best-known composition, “Little Susie” is a blues, while the LP which first brought him to national attention was 1958’s Alone With The Blues (New Jazz). Nonetheless Bryant was a lot more than a contemporary Jimmy Yancy. He was as comfortable playing with modernists as swing masters and even had a charted R&B hit with “Madison Time” in 1960.

Born Raphael Homer Bryant in Philadelphia in 1931, he was initially taught piano by his mother, an ordained minister, which explains his affinity for gospel styling as well as blues. Following classical piano studies, he was playing jazz in his teens. He jammed with locals such as drummer Philly Joe Jones and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, and was later part of the house band at Philly clubs, backing visiting stars, including such older musicians as trumpeter Charlie Shavers and saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (both of whom he would record with in early 1960s) plus younger ones like trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Davis and Rollins each brought Bryant to New York to record, and he’s featured on the tenor saxophonist’s Worktime (Prestige) and the trumpeter’s Miles Davis and Milt Jackson Quintet/Sextet (Prestige) LPs. During that time he played on other all-star sessions, such as Dizzy Gillespie’s Sonny Side Up (Verve) and Max Roach’s Jazz In 3/4 Time (EmArcy) MORE

November 20, 2008

Jeremy Yudkin

Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Invention of Post-Bop
Indiana University Press

Justly celebrated for his decades of musical innovations that encompassed the 1950s Birth of the Cool sessions, 1960’s modal jazz with Kind of Blue and the electric fusion of 1970’s Bitches Brew, additional praise for trumpeter Miles Davis’ contributions would seem to edge from appreciation into hagiography.

Jeremy Yukin, a professor of music at Boston University, has neatly sidestepped this trap by making a case to add to the cannon music created by Davis’ quintet of 1965-1968 – tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams – especially on what he sees as the band’s seminal LP: Miles Smiles. MORE