Meaning of the Blues

"I don't like to hear someone put down Dixieland. Those people who say there's no music but bop are just stupid; it just shows how much they don't know." (DB Reader 29)

"[Except for Billy EckstineClaude] Thornhill had the greatest band of these modern times ... and he destroyed it when he took out the tuba and the two French horns. It was commercially good and musically good. For the Capitol records I made last year, I wanted to get a band as close to the sound [arranger/composer Gil] Evans writes for as I could." (DB Reader 30)

"I think all the musicians should get together one day and get down on their knees and thank Duke [Ellington]... Yes, everybody should bow to Duke and [Billy] Strayhorn - and Charlie Parker and Diz[zy Gillespie]." (DB Reader 34)

"Duke has done more for jazz than anyone I could name. He takes in almost everything when he writes, he and Billy." (DB Reader 38)

"A lot of musicians don't get the full value out of a tune ... Frank Sinatra does. Listen to the way Nelson Riddle writes for Sinatra, the way he gives him enough room, and doesn't clutter it up ... His backgrounds are so right that sometimes you can't tell if if they're conducted." (DB Reader 38)

"Bird [Charlie Parker] used to play 40 different styles. He was never content to remain the same ... Bird used to make me play, try to play. He used to lead me on the bandstand. I used to quit every night. The tempo was so up, the challenge was so great." (DB Reader 36)

"[I'd] rather hear a guy miss a couple of notes than hear some old cliches all the time. Often when a man misses, it at least shows he's trying to think of something new to play." (DB Reader 36)

"I want this group to sound the way ... all of the men in it play individually - different from anyone else in jazz today. We've got that quality individually; now we have to work on getting the group to sound that way collectively. As we get to work regularly, something will form up and we'll get a style." (DB Reader 35)

"What's swinging, in words? If a guy makes you pat your foot and if you can feel it down your back, you don't have to ask anybody if that's good music or not. You can always feel it." (DB Reader 39)

"I don't even think about harmony. It just comes. You learn where to put notes so they'll sound right. You just don't do it because it's a funny chord. I used to change things because I wanted to hear them - substitute progressions and things. Now I have better taste." (DB Reader 43)

"I don't keep any of my records. I can't stand to hear them after I've made them. The only ones I really like are the ones I just made with Gil Evans [Miles Ahead], the one I made with J.J. [Johnson] on my Blue Note date about four years ago, and a date I did with Charlie Parker." (DB Reader 43)

"I usually don't buy jazz records. They make me tired and depressed. I'll buy Ahmad JamalJohn LewisSonny Rollins. Coltrane I hear every night." (Maher 17)

"If I could play like Ahmad Jamal and Bill Evans combined with one hand, they could take the other off." (Maher 17)

"Listen to the way Jamal uses space. He lets it go so that you can feel the rhythm section and the rhythm section can feel you ... He doesn't throw his technique around like Oscar Peterson. Things flow into and out of each other ... I live until [Ahmad] makes another record." (Maher 17-18)

"Another reason I like Red Garland and Bill Evans is that when they play a chord, they play a sound rather than a chord." (Maher 17)

"I'd love to have a little boy some day with red hair, green eyes, and a black face - who plays piano like Ahmad Jamal." (Maher 19)

"Miles was relaxed, and pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was sending him into several shades of ecstasy [playing the second movement of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major]. 'Listen to those trills!' ... Miles sat there, his first and second finger aflutter ... 'You know ... Gil [Evans] thinks like that.' " (DB Reader 53)

"Gil's not only a composer and a hell of an orchestrator, he just knows instruments and what you can get out of them. He and Duke Ellington are the same way. They can use four instruments when others need eight ...

People always want to categorize music - jazz, classical. Put labels on it. But Gil says all music comes from the people, and the people are folk. Therefore, all music is folk.

I used to write and send Gil my scores for evaluation. Gil used to say they were good, but cluttered up with too many notes. I used to think you had to use a lot of notes and stuff to be writing. Now I've learned enough about writing not to write. I just let Gil write. I give him an outline of what I want and he finishes it. I can even call him on the phone and just tell him what I got in mind, and when I see the score, it is exactly what I wanted. Nobody but Gil could think for me that way. He just has a gift of being able to put instruments together. Some people have it, some don't. Gil has it. 

He is as well-versed on music in general as Leonard Bernstein. And what the classical guys don't know is what Gil knows. They don't know folks. Gil is always listening to Gypsy, South American, and African things. Every time he comes to my house, he's got some new record for me." (DB Reader 54-55)

"Gil is my idea of a man. Say you had a friend who was half man and half donkey, and suppose he even wore a straw hat, and you said, 'Gil, meet George.' Gil would get up and shake his hand and never care what George looked like. You ask Gil a question - you get a straight answer. Like in New York, somebody asked him what he thought of Ornette Coleman's tonal organization, and Gil told him: 'That's Ornette's business. If it isn't good, he'll take care of it.' " (DB Reader 53)

"That's what [has] fucked up music, you know. Record companies. They make too many sad records, man ... Record companies should be kicked in the ass. Somebody should take a picket sign and picket the record company." (DB Reader 58-59)

"The running is all right if you're going to play that way ... but you've got to inject something, and you've got to have the rhythm section along ... You have to think when you play; you have to help each other - you just can't play for yourself. You've got to play with whomever you're playing. If I'm playing with Basie, I'm going to try to help what he's doing - that particular feeling." (DB Reader 59-60)

"It's just like clothes. All of a sudden you decide you don't have to wear spats and a flower up here, you know? You wear the flower and leave off the spats, and then pretty soon you leave off both of them. After a while, what was happening around New York became sickening, because everybody thought playing the cliches that people had played five years before, and they thought that made them 'modern' musicians. I really couldn't stand to hear most of those guys." (DB Reader 64)


"I never thought that the music called 'jazz' was ever meant to reach just a small group of people or become a museum thing locked under glass like all other dead things that were considered artistic. I always thought it should reach as many people as it could, like so-called popular music, and why not? ... I don't think if something is popular, it's bad." (Tingen 98)

"1968 was full of all kinds of changes, but for me, the changes that were happening in my music were very exciting and the music that was happening everywhere was incredible." (Autobiography 291)

"We constantly talked about music and the direction it was going. And one of the things we talked about was fusion. My view was the fusion movement was the emphasis of form over feeling. It became about how complex you can write things ... Playing bars of 11/8 for complexity's sake is great for school, but not for music. Miles went way past that. We went straight for the feeling. We were exploring how long we could keep one chord interesting. That was infuriating to [some] critics, who were glorifying fusion. But we said, 'Fuck fusion.' ... The other thing that we talked about was that Miles felt that his music had moved away from the pulse of African-American music. He felt his shit had become too esoteric and that he had contributed to that. Miles wanted to find a way back into connecting with the black community. But the aesthetic question was, 'How do we do that?' We discussed this more than anything else. At the time Miles was listening to a lot of James Brown, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and George Clinton, and that's what he wanted to put together. Miles's idea was to get back to the root of the music - to the funk, but to funk with a high degree of experimental edge. He wanted to take it much further. Miles and I would often go to this restaurant at 125th St. in Harlem and discuss some of the influences he was hearing. It was an Indian restaurant, and obviously they were playing Indian music, and it was at that point that he was telling me about the idea of using the electric sitar and the tablas. He was a big fan of Thom Bell, the producer from Philly, who had worked with The Stylistics and The Delfonics, and who used the electric sitar ... Miles had had it with the direction he had been in, and he wanted to add new colors ... He also gave me a tape of some unreleased stuff on which he had been experimenting with sitar. I think it was his recording of 'Guinnevere' by Crosby, Stills, and Nash." (Tingen 130)

"This is truly the missing link of Miles's career ... If these gigs had come out closer to the time they were recorded, the direction of electric jazz would have been different. People's understanding of groove and mood would have been enhanced. [Fusion] got notey, fast, and showy ... But this is electric jazz with a lot of substance." (DB Reader 178)
--Adam Holzman, on The Cellar Door Sessions (1970, released 2005)

"Miles was moving in the opposite direction from many of his former sidemen, almost entirely abandoning the studio, post-On the Corner, in favor of evolving his music night by night, city by city, and releasing live records after the fact ... That flew right in the face of what the fusioneers were up to ... As ex-bandmembers got smoother and poppier, Miles got rawer and funkier." (Freeman 58-59)

"I know [people] respect me, there's no doubt about it because they can't do it themselves. Otherwise there'd be five On the Corners." (Carr 310)

"It's not ... surprising that [On the Corner's] impact took years to register ... Many of its rhythms sound more like the disco-punk of the late 1970s and early 1980s (the music of bands like Konk, Material, and the Contortions) than like anything else in fusion. Further, its overdubbing, thick and repetitive basslines, and looped percussion link it to hip-hop and dub reggae. Far from ceding any ground to pop trends, On the Corner directly challenged funk, rock, and jazz players alike." (Freeman 99-100)
--Philip Freeman

"Especially 'Black Satin' connected with people who were into funk, and after On the Corner the audience started to change. There was definitely a difference. Many young black people started coming to ... concerts." (Tingen 138)

"It's the white folks that need those labels ... Here's my secret, man: I don't tell no one my secrets. Nobody knows all the instrumentation that I had in On the Corner. They're just guessing. I want to make the fuckin' critics think. Not even Teo knows all the stuff that's on that record." (Tingen 137)

"It's easy to understand why conservative jazz critics turned their backs on albums like On the Corner and Get Up With It. Miles really wasn't playing jazz any longer. He was playing music, with no [generic] limitations ... Davis's journey through electricity and its possibilities was marked by so many phases, and so many different sounds, that the two-word phrase "electric Miles" is laughably inadequate. The tentative experiments of 1968, heard on Miles in the Sky, and Water Babies, are stepping stones into the oceanic wash of In a Silent Way and the gathering storms of Bitches Brew, recorded only a year later. But live recordings [of the early 1970s, like In ConcertDark MagusAghartaPangaea,] ... provide an entirely different view of Miles's activities. Stripped of the overdubs that shaped the studio recordings, these document a squalling, roaring band." (Freeman 7)
--Philip Freeman

We play music for you to learn and listen. The kids, they are so great they can dig what we're giving them. The rest of the people give them shit. They give them the same old fucking thing to be comfortable. That's the reason we are playing, not to be pop stars. What does it mean to sell out to the kids? I haven't sold out to the fucking kids. I don't sell out to nobody." (Carr 285)

"Miles isn't talking about changing his music to suit a youthful audience, he's talking about attracting young people to the music he's going to be playing anyway. Sure, he incorporated funk into his music. He liked funk. That was (and still is) viewed in some quarters as a sin, but it wasn't one." (Freeman 107)
--Philip Freeman

"Speculation as to why Miles stepped out of a black musical universe where Ellington to the nth degree was the directive into a parallel one where funk was its own reward has assumed motives on Miles's part that are racial, social, sexual, psychological, economic ... I think all probably apply, though only when understood as integral to the music rather than as proof of the music's supposed lack of integrity. Because to a brilliant hustler like Miles, all games are the same, everything is related ... and like a good offensive runner, he knows how to cover his ass and when to take orders from the sidelines, if not, in fact, from his accountant.

On the purely musical side however, I think Miles left post-bop modernism for the funk because he was bored fiddling with quantum mechanics and just wanted to play the blues again. The blues ... make the act of confession a means of publicly redeeming your soul ... As an art form the blues ... give soulfulness and simplicity the same constructivist value harmonic complexity has in European symphonic music and bebop ... [With the blues,] not only do you have to convert its cliches into your own style ... you've also got to mean every note since the only thing more tired than some tired blues is some fake funk." (Tate 72)

"Jazz has always used the rhythm of the time, whatever people danced to." (Carr 235)
--Gil Evans

"Don't use th[e word 'jazz'] with me. That's an Uncle Tom word. Clues for white folks in theaters and dine-and-dance places. They know what they're going to get, except with my band or Chick's or Herbie's. Otherwise it's the same old shit." (Carr 262)

"I don't play 'rock.' 'Rock' is a white word. And I don't like the word 'jazz' because 'jazz' is a nigger word that white folks dropped on us. We just play Black. We play what the day recommends ... You don't play 1955 music or that straight crap like 'My Funny Valentine.' " (Carr 262)

"By playing before rock audiences, Miles's bands were reclaiming the amplified electric guitar as a black instrument. In the wake of Jimi Hendrix's death, there were no black rock guitarists of any note ... Even Hendrix, during his lifetime, was viewed as sort of "not really black." This was rumored to be part of what led him to play benefit concerts for the Black Panthers and to form the Band of Gypsys. After his death, of course, it just got worse: Hendrix is now an almost exclusively white icon, routinely lionized on the covers of guitar magazines and often placing high in polls in Rolling StoneMojo, and other journals with largely white audiences. But his reputation in the black music world is virtually nil. The only figure from the hip-hop generation to cite Jimi as an influence is Wyclef Jean, who seems himself to sell more records to white fans than black ones. So Miles, by hiring two [and then three - Pete CoseyReggie Lucas, and Dominique Gaumont] black guitarists in the early 1970s, was making a statement, and a strong one at that. The music the band was playing, particularly in 1974 and 1975, was harder than most rock, funkier than most funk, and more ambitious than any of the fusion being offered by his former sidemen." (Freeman 141)
--Philip Freeman

"Pete Cosey was one of the most adventurous and consistently surprising guitarists of the 1970s ... His command of sound - feedback, amplifier buzz, even electronics on their own - left McLaughlin in the dust. In addition to guitar, Cosey played a tabletop's worth of Art Ensemble-style "little instruments" ... Cosey used alternate tunings and dissonance long before avant-rockers like Sonic Youth made a fetish of them. The first time you hear him, he may seem to be working in a post-Hendrix mode. That's the easiest reference to make, but Pete and Jimi were actually contemporaries and likely took ideas from each other." (Freeman 134)
--Philip Freeman

"As Miles Davis's European technical facility becomes sparser, his comment from the Negro folk tradition becomes more incisive. He's been an important innovator in form in jazz, but ... not out of theory, but out of what he hears and lives." (Chambers 235)

"Yeah, I loved all those [records], but now Miles has gone way beyond that, and some people don't like him at all. Miles has eliminated the space I liked about him before, but now the space is even greater, every note is like a gem, he has reached the epitome of music." (Chambers 227)

"[Miles] played some of [his music] for me, and he said, 'How do you like that shit?' I said, 'What is it?' And he said, 'You know what it is, Diz; same shit you've been playing all the time,' and I said, 'Have I?' I said, 'Look, I'm going to come by your house and spend several hours and you're going to explain to me what that is.' " A few years later [Miles] grumbled, "Dizzy [Gillespie] asks me to teach him. I say, 'Yeah, come by. I'll show you everything we're doin'. It'll be my pleasure.' And he don't come by." (Chambers 134)

"The shattering of context was one of his primary creative strategies in the electric years. Whether he was juxtaposing seemingly incompatible instruments, or using up-to-the-minute production techniques to yank a solo from its original position and move it somewhere else entirely, or repeat a musical passage over and over again, he (along with producer Teo Macero) was always trying to keep listeners off-balance, that they might hear more clearly what he was actually playing. It's easy to fill in the gaps in a predictable music ... and listen passively. But Miles understood that when you didn't know what was coming next, you'd have to listen to find out - and then you might actually hear something, instead of ... coasting on memory and presumption." (Freeman 109)
--Philip Freeman

"The whole idea of the music is that it's so open that it demands of the players that they really listen, really play together 100 percent of the time. You have to be completely present every second, because if you're just going through the motions this music can be utterly boring. But if the band is there, it's the most exciting stuff in the world." (Tingen 266)

"I always felt Miles's music of 1973 to 1975 was some of the most important ... Miles took a direction that was different than that of almost all his colleagues. His compositions are based on conceptual structures that are unique for any music in any time zone. Probably the most brilliant part of it is that the notion of phrasing changed completely. No longer were long, arced phrases sought after. In his music there was the notion of using short nuclei of notes as a basis for improvisation, as opposed to the language of harmonic progression. It's a whole other conceptual design where the actual material that's being used is as short as your five fingers, while the piece of music may be quite long. This is a new language, with roots in African music. The reason it's being looked at today is that there's not much happening. People are quite bored, and alientated from the notion of inspiration, so they are looking at things that people already did. And this music is important and powerful." (Tingen 266)

"The music is about pure sound, of tunes and timbres, in a similar way that perhaps dub or dance music is. It also has a fantastic, magical sense of space." (Tingen 266)

"Close listening reveals incredible imagination at work: the music is constantly shifting in subtle ways, like patterns of moss on a vast black rock." (Freeman 11)
--Philip Freeman

"The music Miles made between 1969 and [1983] demands revisionist history, and no writer in my reading has made sense of its revolutionary aesthetics or adequately appreciated its visionary beauty. Nor have many, if any, of Miles's critics shown enough background in black pop to place his electric music within the cultural context which spawned it ... I don't think many of my, uh, esteemed colleagues could make heads or tails of [it] or dig it in reference to Funkadelic and a punk revolution that was just around the corner. And don't get me started one how none of them realized Miles's lead axe of the period, Pete Cosey, is the Cecil Taylor of the guitar ... or how they slept through ... how deviously [Miles] revamped his own past and black music's avant-garde through the use of electronics." (Tate 69)

"The evolutionary process through which Miles [came] to deliver this Unity Music sermon from the mount begins not with Bitches Brew, but with the 1966 release of Miles Smiles. On that LP Ron Carter and Tony Williams so radically transform ... the role of bass and drums in improvised music as to make the solo[s] of Miles, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock come off like a tightwire act run through a rain forest." (Tate 69)

"As an arranger and leader, what Miles did in making this cabal of artful astrophysicists cohere is create a context where the sublime funk of Kind of Blue and the firepower of Milestones could be fused, accelerated, and then fissioned ... As a trumpeter, Miles made the band focus on how much emotional energy could be compressed, expressed, and released ... In all of Miles's bands since the one Trane fell into, the parts have come to sum up the whole, as the players became the tunes and the tunes then became absorbed into the ensemble's community sound. As Ellington did with orchestras, Miles has done with smaller units: turned them into palettes which ... work for him more like the democratic process than like pigments did for Picasso." (Tate 71-72)

"I favor [George] Clinton's and Miles's worlds over Zappa's and Beefheart's because Don and Frank run romper runs by dictatorship whereas Miles and Uncle Jam are more like groundskeepers at insane asylums for black and white radicals. Leading us back to the notion of genius through democracy rather than fascism, Miles took this principle even further than George ... by nailing 'The One' through collective subversion rather than perverse collective arrangements." (Tate 78)

"In effect, the ensemble music isn't dissimilar to Sunny Ade or Steve Reich -- especially in terms of its conversion of multiple melodies into polyrhythms and subtly swelling ... metamorphoses. Where Miles's work goes beyond theirs is in having his trumpet and Cosey's guitar improvise a swinging infinity of new colors, lines, lyrically percussive phrasings, and needlepoint-by-laser stitchings out of the given melody. The singularly transcendent thing about jazz is that it allows one human being's voice the right to assume universal proportions through ... expression in a collective framework. And because Cosey and Miles can continually solo, and enhance rather than rupture the communal fabric of the calypso, they celebrate jazz as a way of life and as an aesthetic model for the human community." (Tate 80)

"By 1975, Miles, through his decades-old practice of paying cats to practice on the bandstand, had created the world's first fully improvisational acid-funk band -- by which I mean one capable of extemporaneously orchestrating motifs from Santana, Funkadelic, Sly, [Karlheinz] Stockhausen, Africa, India, and the Ohio Players ... The band's cohesion amidst sonic chaos knows no parallel in fusion, funk, rock, or either the black or white avant garde." (Tate 82)
--Greg Tate

"That band was organic. It wasn't about a bunch of solos. It was the tapestry that really mattered. We had a magnetism, a sort of instantaneous radar, to be able to communicate with each other musically ... It was all very natural ... because we evolved simple frameworks into changing compositions. To this day I have never had such a great feeling as a sideman. There are very few groups that develop that sort of coherence in their collective improvisations." (Tingen 152-153)
"Our concerts began like a balloon that was incredibly compressed. After that it was a matter of gradually letting the air out. The energy it took us to play at that level was enormous. There were times we had to lie down after we had finished playing. Before the concert we'd build the energy up. We looked at each other and said, 'Let's go through the wall.' That was our slogan." (Tingen 164)

"We tended to go into the studio when the compositions were new, and then we'd go out and play them for a year. It wasn't like a pop song where you'd spend months and months perfecting the performance that went on record. We would only develop the compositions elaborately as we toured and performed." (Tingen 163)

"It's not quite [Miles's] stage presence, but it's a way of drawing the powers that are up there and dispersing them ... It's a much more compositional thing than I had thought of. Where is it going? It's not just going to the end of the tune because there's no such thing as that any more." (Chambers 256)

"[Bassist] Michael Henderson's tenure with Miles Davis was an exercise in underestimation and dismissiveness. It's a puzzle, really; did critics think the fact that he only played five notes meant he only could play five notes? Did they seriously think the pop market was clamoring for twenty-minute, side-long medleys with a hypnotic bottom end so heavy it was like a living thing in the room? More likely, jazz heads like the Down Beat critic who called On the Corner "nameless, faceless go-go music" were just looking for a quick way to shrug off music that repulsed them, which they didn't want to take the trouble to understand. The accusation of 'selling out' has been jazz's doomsday weapon for decades, and Miles played right into critics' hands." (Freeman 127)
--Philip Freeman

"Michael was new. My memory of him was that he didn't know ... jazz ... But now I listen and realize I wasn't paying attention then to how great he was. I appreciate that now listening to the tapes." (DB Reader 176)

"Because you have technique you don't have to use it. You use it when you feel like it. I mean, you can run, but if you can walk, you walk, right? ... It's called good taste. I play whatever comes into my black head." (Chambers 238)

"It's a gas playing with Miles. The first thing I realized was, he's really serious about this stuff! That knocked me out, the way he's really into it. I heard him on that wah-wah pedal doing some amazing things, and I thought, well, I'll try that too. We can still all learn from Miles, that's what I mean. He's a master ... We'll be the Tranes and the Birds and the Miles of the future, but he's it right now." (Chambers 255)

"Every time I've been with him on the road or at his house, I've never heard a tape in the machine - and there's always something on - that is older than a few days or a week. He doesn't listen to anything that's in the past, of his own music ... I've never heard him listen to anybody else's music, except ... Sly or James Brown. Of the music the group is doing, he won't even listen to a tape of two weeks ago. That's already old to him. So when you see that in him, it's really understandable why, to me, the music has moved in another direction." (Chambers 235)
--Dave Liebman

"Jimi was probably the only musician that Miles could not fully understand. He couldn't figure out where Jimi was coming from, because he wasn't writing any music, he was just flowing. Bitches Brew was the result of Miles hanging out with Jimi ... Not that there wasn't a mutual admiration, but Jimi had the contemporary edge and Miles was always reaching out for that." (Szwed 271) 
--Alan Douglas, Jimi Hendrix's producer

"What Miles heard in the musics of P-Funk progenitors James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, was the blues impulse ... retooled for the Space Age through a lowdown act of possession. And in them all he probably recognized pieces of himself. Like James Brown he was a consummate bandleader who knew his way around a boxing ring, like Sly he was a bourgeois boy who opted to become a street fighting man, and like Jimi he was a musician whose physical grace seemed to declare itself in every bent note and sensual slur." (Tate 73)
--Greg Tate

"I listen to James Brown and those little bands on the South Side. They swing their asses off. No bullshit." (Chambers 208)

"Miles Davis was possibly more obsessed with Sly Stone's music than with Jimi Hendrix's. While he admired the guitarist and wanted to work with him, he seemed to approach Stone's music not only as a fan but as a student, in search of ideas ... Dave Liebman recalls being invited to [Davis's] home to listen to Stone tracks, over and over again. Davis was particularly fascinated by Stone's ... rhythm." (Freeman 75)
--Philip Freeman

"He plays rhythm. He plays off the beat. He plays on the upbeats. He'll play a rhythmic phrase in order to get the attention going. He's not just thinking harmonically and melodically. He's thinking rhythm. It's like a drummer. He would constantly talk about rhythm." (Tingen 87)
--Dave Liebman

"Foley was present when [Miles] and [George] Clinton first met backstage at a show in Detroit. 'They were both in awe of each other. They just gawked at each other, smiled and didn't have much to say. It was so deep. ' " (DB Reader 171)

"I was a big fan of [Karlheinz] Stockhausen and had brought several recordings with me, particularly of two pieces, 'Gruppen' and 'Mixtur,' which involve large chamber orchestras at times processed through ring modulators ... I don't know if Miles knew of Stockhausen, but when I bought these records he became very interested. He immediately put them on his record player, with the automatic changer on, and for about four hours he had them loudly playing all over the house." (Tingen 132)

"I think it's time people change where they put the melody. The melody can be in the bass, or a drum sound, or just a sound. I may write something around one chord. I may write something around a rhythm....I always place a rhythm so it can be played three or four different ways. It's always three rhythms within one, and you can get some other ones in there too....It's almost like Bach." (Tingen 149-150)

"If Al Green had one tit, I'd marry that motherfucker. You know who's a baddd motherfucker? Ann Peebles ... That bitch is a motherfucker, and Linda Hopkins ... and Aretha ... Man, there ain't nothin' happening that ain't happening with [Aretha]." (DB Reader 100-101)

"Marvin Gaye really likes me? God damn! The next time you see Marvin, tell him that what he writes, if he wants me to play it, to just call me up and tell me where he is. He's a motherfucker! Man, I ain't ever heard nothing like "You're the Man." And "What's Happening, Brother," god damn! That tune is so hip, boy. Marvin should do a show with it. I love him." (DB Reader 109)

From Miles: The Autobiography:
"The music I was listening to in 1968 was James Brown, the great guitar player Jimi Hendrix, and a new group ... Sly and the Family Stone ... The shit [Sly was] doing was badder than a motherfucker, had all kinds of funky shit up in it. But it was Jimi Hendrix that I first got into when Betty Mabry turned me on to him ... Jimi came from the blues, like me. We both understood each other right away because of that ... Both him and Sly were great natural musicians; they played what they heard." (291-92)

"[Now,] I'm crazy about the way Gil Evans voices his music, so I wanted to get me a Gil Evans sound in a small band. That required an instrument like the synthesizer, which can get all those different instrumental sounds. I could hear that you could write a bass line with the voicings that Gil did with his big band. We could get some harmony on top with the synthesizer, and that makes the whole band sound fuller. Then you double the bass when you double that; it works better than if you had a regular piano ... It didn't have nothing to do with me wanting to go electric, like a lot of people said, just to be having some electrical shit up in my band. I just wanted that kind of voicing a Fender Rhodes could give me that a regular piano couldn't ... Musicians have to play the instruments that best reflect the times we're in, play the technology that will give you what you want to hear. All these purists walking around talking about how electrical instruments will ruin music. Bad music is what will ruin music ... I don't see nothing wrong with electrical instruments as long as you get great musicians who will play them right." (295)

"I started realizing that most rock musicians didn't know anything about music. They didn't study it, couldn't play different styles - and don't even talk about reading music. They were popular and sold a lot of records because they were giving the public a certain sound, what they wanted to hear. So I figured if they could do it - reach all those people and sell all those records without really knowing what they were doing - then I could do it too, only better. Because I liked playing the bigger halls instead of the nightclubs all the time. Not only could you make more money and play to larger audiences, but you didn't have the hassles you had playing all those smoky nightclubs." (302)

So it was through Bill [Graham] that I met the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia ... and I hit it off great, talking about music, what they liked and what I liked, and I think we all learned something ... Jerry Garcia loved jazz, and I found out he loved my music and had been listening to it for a long time. He loved other jazz musicians too, like Ornette Coleman and Bill Evans ... Looking back, I think Bill Graham did some important things for music with those concerts [at the Fillmore], opened everything up so that a lot of different people heard a lot of different kinds of music that they wouldn't normally have heard." (302)

"I was getting interested in seeing the black sound develop and that's where my head was moving toward, more rhythmic stuff, more funk rather than white rock ... When I first heard Sly, I almost wore out those first two or three records, "Dance to the Music," "Stand," and "Everybody Is a Star." " (321-22)

"It was with Sly Stone and James Brown in mind that I went into the studio ... to record On the Corner. During that time everyone was dressing kind of "out street," you know ... I was my own model, with a little bit of Sly and James Brown and the Last Poets. I wanted to videotape people coming into a concert who wore all those types of clothes, especially black people. I wanted to see all those different kinds of outfits and the women trying to hide them big bad asses, trying to tuck them in." (322)

"I had gotten into the musical theories of Karlheinz Stockhausen ... and an English composer who I had met in London in 1969, Paul Buckmaster ... Paul was into [Johann Sebastian] Bach and so I started paying attention to Bach while Paul was around. I [started] to realize some of the things Ornette ... had said about things being played three or four ways, independently of each other, were true because Bach also composed that way. And it could be real funky and down. (322)

"You don't have to blast because you've got an amplifier. And the smoother you play a trumpet, the more it sounds like a trumpet when you amplify it. It's like mixing paint: with too many colors you get nothing but mud. An amplified trumpet doesn't sound good when you play real fast. So I learned to play [short] phrases, and that's where I was going with my new music. It was exciting because I was learning as I was doing it, just like when I had Herbie and Wayne and Ron and Tony in my band. Only this time it was coming from me and that made me feel real good." (324)

"Columbia released On the Corner ... but they didn't push it, so it didn't do as well as we all thought it would. The music was meant to be heard by young black people, but they treated it like any other jazz album and advertised it that way, pushed it on the jazz radio stations. Young black kids don't listen to those stations; they listen to R&B stations and some rock stations. Columbia marketed it for them old-time jazz people who couldn't get into what I was doing in the first place ... A year later, when Herbie Hancock put out his Headhunters album and it sold like hotcakes in the young black community, everybody at Columbia said, 'Oh. So that's what Miles was talking about!' " (328-29)

"I had always written in a circular way and through Stockhausen I could see that I didn't want to ever play again from eight bars to eight bars, because I never end songs; they just keep going on." (329)

*      *     *     *     *

"You know whites are going to hold onto the power and the money. The white man leaning back smoking his cigar, he's not going to move. He wants everything just the same. That's what makes our music different. It comes from people who have had to learn how to make the white man move." (Carr 276)

"I don't care who buys the records as long as they get to the black people, so I will be remembered when I die. I'm not playing for any white people, man. I wanna hear a black guy say, 'Yeah, I dig Miles Davis.' " (Chambers 238)

"The reason I didn't win [a Grammy] is because the recording industry is ninety-nine percent white. So I'm helping to organize the Mammies for black recording artists. We sent letters to all the black disc jockeys and the only way a white group can get in is if it's mixed with black musicians. There shouldn't be any prizes for any kind of art because all art is different. So we'll present awards and then tear them up in front of the cameras." (Szwed 321)

"I like when a black boy says, 'Oooh! Man, there's Miles Davis.' Like they did with Joe Louis. Some cats did me like that in Greensboro. They said, 'Man, we sure glad you came down here.' That thrilled me more than anything that happened to me that year ... All they have to do [to get my band at black colleges] is pay my transportation and pay the band. I really feel like I don't do anything. I would like for black people to look at me like Joe Louis. Maybe it will never happen, maybe it's wishful thinking. You know, Sugar Ray Robinson inspired me, and he made me kick a habit. I said, 'If that mother can win all those fights, I sure can break this motherfuckin' habit.' I went home, man, and sat up for two weeks, and I sweated it out ... [Fighters] don't miss. Like Joe Louis didn't miss, and Jack Johnson was twenty years ahead of his time. Ray Robinson, too ... My favorite fighter is Johnny Bratton. Fighters just turn me on and make me wanna do something ... I don't feel like I'm doing anything. I mean, so what, so I play music, but my race don't get it. You know what I mean? It's 'cause they can't afford it ... I get tired of seeing black people walking in clubs with the girl in front of the guy and the guy with his hands in his pockets trying to be cool ... I just want to get to my race, man. I want them to quit fibbin' when they come in those clubs." (DB Reader 104-105)

"Challenges always make me ten times stronger. I love challenges ... If somebody says step outside and let's fight, I'm ready ... But really, man, I don't really fight. I've been listening to Puccini's Tosca for about ten years, and I wanna play it, and I'm gonna play it one day. You know challenges like that ... turn me on. (DB Reader 97-98)

"I am not a Black Panther or nothing like that. I don't need to be, but I was raised to think like they do." (Tingen 150)

"It's ... the whole attitude of the police force....It's not so much the way black people are treated any more. It's the way they treat all the young people that think the same way, so no matter what color you are, you get the same shit. That's what the black people have been trying to say for years ... The country is so far gone that you can't change it, you can just fuck with it 'til they change certain laws in the city. First thing they should do is legalize marijuana and all drugs. Then you go from there. There's so much graft and shit, like, you wouldn't believe the shit going down with dope." (Carr 275)

"Look at what's happening to our kids, how they've gone so far into drugs, especially black kids ... One reason ... is that they don't know about their heritage. It's a shame the way our country has treated black people and our contributions to this society. I think the schools should teach kids about jazz or black music. Kids should know that America's only original contribution is the music that our black [ancestors] brought from Africa ... African music should be studied as much as European music. 

When kids don't learn about their own heritage in school, they just don't care about school. They turn to dope, to crack, because nobody cares about them. Plus they see some easy money ... so they get into that underground connection ... I know about this because I was into it when I was on drugs ... I know that a lot of them drop into the underground culture because they know they ain't gonna get no fairness from white people. So they play sports or music ... It's either sports, entertainment, or the underground ... 

In Europe and Japan they respect black people's culture, what we have contributed to the world. They know what it is. But white Americans would rather push a white person like Elvis Presley, who is just a copy of a black person, than ... push the real thing. They give all this money to white rock groups, to promote and publicize them ... But that's all right because everyone knows that Chuck Berry started the shit, not Elvis. They know Duke Ellington was the 'King of Jazz' and not Paul Whiteman ... 

When he was alive Bird never got his due. Only a few white critics ... recognized Bird ... For most white critics, Jimmy Dorsey was their man, like Bruce Springsteen or George Michael is today. Outside of a few places, hardly anybody had heard of Charlie Parker. But a lot of black people -- the hip ones -- knew. Then when white people finally found out about Bird and Diz it was too late. Duke Ellington and Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson never got their due. Louis Armstrong had to start grinning like a motherfucker to finally get his. White people used to talk about how John Hammond discovered Bessie Smith. Shit, how did he discover her when she was there already? ... It's like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people shit? ...

Some white people -- and black people too -- will laugh at you one minute and then turn around and say that they love you the next. They do it all the time; try to divide and conquer people ... But I've got a long memory of what has happened to us in this country. The Jewish people keep reminding the world of what happened to them in Germany. So black people have to keep reminding the world of what happened in the United States, or as James Baldwin ... told me, 'these yet to be United States.' We've got to watch out for those divide-and-conquer techniques ... I know people get tired of hearing it but black people have ... just got to keep it in front of [whites] like the Jews have done ... and ... let them know that we know what they are doing and that we're not going to lighten up until they stop." (Autobiography 404-408)

"Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson don't know what to say to anybody black, unless there's some black bitch and she's all over them. It's so awkward for them because they know all the white facial expressions, but they're not hip to black expressions, and - God knows - they're not hip to Chinese expressions. You see, they've seen all the white expressions like fear, sex, revenge, and white actors imitate other white actors when they express emotions, but they don't know how black people react. Dick Cavett is quiet now when a black cat is talking to him, because he doesn't know if the expression on his face means 'I'm going to kick your ass,' or if 'Right on' means he's going to throw a right-hand punch. So, rather than embarrass them and myself, I just play on those shows and tell them not to say anything to me. I have nothing to say to them anyway." (Chambers 201)

"[The venue's] gonna make a lot of money for those four nights. What are they gonna do, give me a set of clothes, a watermelon? They'll be kissing me and bringing me coke and offering me a reefer and all that shit. What do I get out of this? Miles is a good nigger. Miles is all right. Right on, Miles. What is it with that shit? And then, when you [ask for more money], they say we are all in it for the art." (Carr 282)

"In the controversy over Davis's fusion, the most puzzling factor is ... the sea change in western music-making that ... occurred during the 1960s. Both the champions and critics of Davis's later career tend to hold him responsible for this transformation and to assign praise or blame accordingly. But this is a mistake. Davis absorbed the sea change and adapted his remarkable talents to it in ways both creative and calculating. But he did not cause it.

The sea change is part of a massive cultural shift away from the ear and toward the eye. Literary people complain about the conquest of print by images; a profounder complaint could be made by musicians. It is beyond the scope of this essay to pin down all the forces at work in this shift. But there is no doubt about its impact. At all levels, from the Broadway stage to the latest youth craze, listening is now distinctly subordinated to looking. In the visual feast of a culture dominated by photography, film, video, computer graphics, and high-tech stagecraft, music is rarely more than aural sauce.

Ironically, the musicians who contributed most to this change had the exact opposite intention. 

In 1965 Philip Glass was inspired by Indian raga to try a new compositional approach where the Western tendency to 'take time and divide it' was replaced with the Eastern one to 'take very small units and add them together.' So he took brief, simple melodic-harmonic motives and repeated them over and over, along with 'cycles of different beats, wheels within wheels, everything going at the same time and always changing.' Similar ideas occurred to the jazz avant-gardist La Monte Young, and to composer-engineers such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Mike Oldfield. Dubbed 'minimalism,' the music that emerged from these efforts was conceived emphatically not to serve as mere background. To Reich the goal was to 'facilitate closely detailed listening.' To Glass it was to supplant the narrative mode of listening with 'story symphonies and story concertos' with a timeless immersion where 'neither memory nor anticipation' would have 'a place in sustaining the texture, quality, or reality of the musical experience.'

It's important to note that minimalism did not arise from ... modernism. On the contrary, Glass consciously rejected his modernist training when he espoused the Indian idea of music as 'a meditational mode of perception' that 'shares attributes with trance states, religious ecstasy, and drug experiences without being synonymous with them' ...

Today critics blame minimalism for New Age, the easy-listening mood music ... However ... the high ambition of minimalism's creators - that pulsing, trance-like sound would foster a new, quasispiritual listening - is not fulfilled [in New Age]. Outside the concert hall, in the casual ... technologically driven settings where most people now listen to music, minimalist-derived forms succeed precisely because they do not [appear to] demand the concentrated attention once routinely paid to shaped melodic structures from the symphony to the sonata, the popular song to the jazz solo." ("Miles Davis and the Double Audience," Miles Davis and American Culture, ed. Gerald Early, 159-160)  

"A tradition where the state of ecstasy is the goal. We don't have that. We actually didn't want that, we were the Puritans. We didn't want the dark side, so we had to get rid of the other shit, so we ended up with the middle. I think only an American who wasn't so American would be able to know how to listen [like that]." (Interview with Ted Rosenthal)
--Keith Jarrett

"Like the child brought before Solomon, African American music is a living whole, where every dance, even the liveliest, partakes of melody; and every song, even the tenderest, partakes of rhythm. Popular music still possessed this wholeness in the 1960s, but clearly by 1975, for lack of a Solomon, the child was being dismembered. It was probably no coincidence that Davis quit music that year. The rift between black and white audiences that had opened after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., reached the breaking point. Billboard had restored its color-coded charts, and while the disco craze still was integrated, the white fans of heavy metal began to wage their antiblack (and antigay) "disco sucks" campaign. Other whites, including many southern musicians who had performed on soul records, retreated to country rock. Soul began to lose touch with its gospel roots, as Isaac Hayes led Barry White into the swamp of self-indulgent "fuck music." And the New York audience was split between the white downtown clubs that spawned punk and the black uptown clubs that nurtured hip-hop ... Amid this deterioration, Davis's final gambit was to market himself as a black youth idol." (Early 163)
--Martha Bayless

During the later 1960s, Herbie Hancock was probably closer musically to Miles than anyone except Gil Evans. Hancock had already written his popular hit, a rhythm and blues piece called "Watermelon Man," and his musical interests were wide, ranging from Stockhausen, Bartok, and Stravinsky, to pop music. He was, for a jazz musician, remarkably unprejudiced and never made a generic condemnation of music of any kind, preferring to listen and to judge any piece on its own merits. Talking of rock and pop music, he said: 

          I think it has become very artful....the Beatles, for example, some of their songs are    
          very artful. And Dionne Warwick, James Brown, Mary Wells, Smokey and the  
          Miracles, the Supremes....I like all kinds of music, and there are certain types that 
          are directly related to me. Rhythm and blues is part of my own personal background, 
          not just from being a teenager during the time rhythm and blues first started, but 
          because I'm a Negro; and so far as pop music is concerned, it is probably basic to 
          everybody's listening.

Rhythm and blues was still providing a link between black musicians of all generations. Miles himself had started out with such a group. This experience and his general musical interests coincided almost exactly with those of Hancock.

But an even greater shock awaited [jazz critic] Leonard Feather when he visited Miles Davis in a Hollywood hotel in 1968. He wrote: 'I found strewn about the room records or tape cartridges by James Brown, Dionne Warwick, Tony Bennett, the Byrds, Aretha Franklin, and Fifth Dimension. Not a single jazz instrumental.' The names all have two things in common: the artists were very popular, and they were all noted for musical quality of one kind or another ... 

As Miles had done in the previous decade, these artists were all proving that it was possible to make excellent music and still be successful commercially. The difference was that Miles had done it with purely instrumental music ... The basic problem facing Miles Davis and all other jazz musicians was how to reinstate instrumental music as a major force on equal terms with the ubiquitous vocal groups." (Carr 217-219)

 -    -    -   -   -     -       -      -         --       -          -             -              -                 -         -

"It may be a funny thing for a musician to say, but Miles taught me how to listen." (Tingen 14)
--Adam Holzman

"The best understanding of time, space, and movement of anybody I have ever worked with." (Tingen 14)

"Of all those in the band, Miles is the most easily influenced by outside events. He reflects everything he feels in his playing immediately." (Tingen 14) 

"By far the greatest listener I have ever experienced in a musical group." (Tingen 14)
"When you were playing, you could hear him listening." (DBReader 163)
"There was an enormous silence that was made present, it was so complete, so full. I want to live there all the time. It's palpable, you can feel it, it's tactile. And he let it go; he never hung onto it. He could play the same. Why does it always sound like he played it for the first time? ... The answer is because every time he played it, it was the first time ... There was something going on through his playing that transcended him, that was more significant than he was." (DB Reader 165)
"There are two [other] things that impressed me ... One was that he liked to be approached as though he were a human being; but if you approached him like he was a star, he could be disagreeable in the extreme. And the other thing was that, whatever promo shit might be happening off the bandstand, when he came to the music, all that was going on was music. He didn't bring any other agenda into the music with him." (DB Reader 167)

"Most of the time he was funny. And he could be serious; he could be a lot of things. He was many people. But I'll tell ya, I miss him. I wish he was around. There was so much meat in what he said." (DB Reader 167)

"There's a bunch of notes you can choose, you can be a virtuoso of your instrument and beat everyone at the battle of the bands. That isn't what music is about. What [Miles] gave ... was letting go of so many things we think are so goddamn important ... It was vulnerable, it was powerful. You know, you're not supposed to be powerful and vulnerable at the same time. Jazz at its best is always that. [And] Miles wasn't a drummer, but the way he played that note was more related to a deep sense of pulse than ninety-five percent of the drummers that've played at any one time." (DB Reader 165)
--Keith Jarrett

"It was my last gig with him.....Sao Paulo, Brazil. He had been sick, and we had to cancel gigs. Anyway, he got back on stage, and was pretty out of it for a day or two, I mean, in-the-hospital type [out]. He looked over at me and said, 'That was a close one,' and then he played his ass off. I mean, maybe the longest solos of my whole time with him. He was hitting hard, man ... high notes and everything." (DB Reader 166)
--Dave Liebman

"After Miles, you couldn't just be a good trumpet player. You had to sacrifice your soul and maybe give some blood in the process. Others might have played trumpet from the heart; Miles played it like he was having open heart surgery. At the same time, every note thanked God for putting Louis Armstrong on the planet." (Tate 89)
--Greg Tate

"[Davis] grabbed two ... trumpets and took turns running rapid chromatic scales from the bottom to the top 'C.' 'I'm straight as long as I'm able to run the scale like that.' " (Szwed 224)

"How are you going to rehearse the future?" (Tingen 14)

"I always listen to what I can leave out." (Tingen 15)

"I don't believe in wasting any phrases, no matter how small, how soft. With phrases comes rhythm. I don't waste rhythm either. The rhythm can throw off the melody and it gets lost. So you have to know what the phrases mean, what the notes mean. A lot of musicians don't! They ... just know [the theoretical name]." (Tingen 15)

"You don't make bad notes. The note next to the one that you think is bad corrects the one in front." (1988 interview on German television)

"In music there was no ... ego. Being on stage was never about him, but always about musical inspiration, no matter where it came from ... Sometimes he'd look at Jack and say, 'You know?' and Jack would go, 'Yeah, I know.' There was a knowing they shared about [music], and it is where Miles felt connected with other people." (Tingen 15)
--Lydia DeJohnette

Musically, Miles is to me what a Zen teacher is spiritually. I have talked to a lot of people who have been to Japan and who have studied Zen. They say that sometimes in Zen you'll be told things you don't understand, but you just have a feeling what they right. The same with Miles, he often said things that were very cryptic, but had a deeper meaning. During our first rehearsal ... he said to me about the drummer, 'Let him play as if he plays to a tap dancer.' I told the drummer what Miles had said and he asked me, 'What does he mean?' And I said, 'I don't know.' We thought about it, and we guessed that Miles wanted him to keep some energy back, and play with a mental awareness of a hidden, faster energy. It changed something in our attitude, and made the very slow rhythm lift off." (Tingen 17-18) 

"His presence created such an edge. I'd never been with anyone who could be so demanding just by his mere presence." (Tingen 18)

"The whole time I worked with him I was in awe over the magic he had ... He was one of the persons I've met who expressed the least amount of trivia. He didn't talk about much, he didn't gossip, he didn't seem to be affected by a whole lot of things. He was a cat who said only one or two phrases, but it would summarize what you were trying to get to. And he had a knowing about music you could sense and feel, even if it wasn't necessarily visible or describable." (Tingen 18)

"I do believe in being spiritual and do believe in spirits. I always have. I believe my mother and father come to visit me. I believe all the musicians that I have known who are now dead do, too. When you work with great musicians, they are always a part of you ... The ones that are dead I miss a lot, especially as I grow older ... When I think about the ones who are dead it makes me mad, so I try not to think about it. But their spirits are walking around in me ... It's all in me, the things I learned to do from them. Music is about the spirit and the spiritual, and about feeling ...

When I wake up in the morning and want to see my mother or father or Trane or Gil or Philly, or whoever, I just say to myself, 'I want to see them,' and they're there and I'm talking to them. Sometimes now when I look in the mirror I see my father there ... I definitely believe in the spirit, but I don't think about death; there's too much for me to do to worry about that." (Autobiography 411)

"Miles often knew who called before he picked up the phone and could sense someone walking towards his house when they were still a block away. 'Real Twilight Zone stuff.' " (Tingen 19)

"He was not one for God, but he was convinced that all the concerts and all the sounds he'd ever made were still there, floating around somewhere. That, for instance, his concert on November, 12, 1956 was intact somewhere in space, and that they would one day invent a machine to play it again. He loved that idea!" (Tingen 20)

"Anybody can play. The note is only twenty percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is eighty percent." (Tingen 92)

"I would say that Miles was the most sensitive to the bass line of any musician I've ever heard or worked with. As a melodic player he really responded to the bottom. Most guys don't hear it that way, they hear it as a function. Chords were not such a concern for him. He did not pay a lot of attention to that, his attention was usually on the bass and drums." (Tingen 150)
--Dave Liebman

"I didn't know Miles had come to see me play in L.A. Miles called me [there] half-a-year later ... When I came to New York, he picked me up in his car, and we talked all the way to and from the first rehearsal. That's when I felt the heart and soul of Miles Davis. If I'd never played a note with Miles, just the ride was incredible. We talked about all sorts of musicians and different ... genres, and I realized, 'This guy is aware of everything that's going on.' So I asked him, 'Miles, when do you have time to go see and hear all these people?', and he said, 'I just check everything out.' " (Tingen 123)

"You have to have a band around you which is better than you are. Only in that case do you always aim higher. You always need to have the possibility to learn from everyone in the band." (Tingen 158)

" 'How many times in your life did you feel you were starting a new career?'
  ' I only have one career, and that's music. I made up my mind when I was about seven years old that I wanted to be a musician. And that was it.'
  ' So there's one line all the way through?'
  ' That's right.'   (Tingen 267-268)

"Miles's idea of an artist was very pure in the sense ... of the musician, the artist, serving his own muse. I think he correctly identified that as the true creative spirit, and he was appalled by the constraints placed upon him by his legendary status as a jazz musician ... He was most contemptuous of artistic complacency and mediocrity." (Tingen 268)
--Reggie Lucas

"It was nice to play with him without having him speak to you verbally because you could learn so much from what he said through his instrument. It's another way of communicating. And one of Miles's major attributes is that he knows how to do that first nature, rather than second nature." (Chambers 204)

"He doesn't tell you how to play ... You gotta be able to read Miles ... And that's one of the things he judges musicians on: the ability to translate what Miles wants ... Nothing is ever said ... It's totally physical movement. And sometimes not even overt physical movement, it's just a vibration you get if you study [him] ... With Miles, part of the playing is watching. That's playing, you dig? You gotta know what's happening." (Chambers 263)
--Dave Liebman

"I had to find sounds (not so much chords) so that when the information came, I['d] leave room for more to happen ... the whole story should not be in the song itself. The value is in the whole record in jazz." (Szwed 265)
--Herbie Hancock

"Playing with Miles, importance was placed on everything you did ... There was that tendency to think that the whole evening was the composition." (Szwed 265)
"Herbie said, 'I don't know what to play no more.' So Miles says, 'Don't play nothin'. Only play when you feel like it.' So we'd be playing ... then all of a sudden he'd play one sound, and Miles said, 'That one sound you made was a bitch!' So everybody saw something happening....and we began playing songs without chords." (Szwed 265)

"The more we play, the more I play, the more I can perceive what we can do in concert - what we should do. Then by playing a lot of concerts, you can change the music. You get tired of hearin' it yourself. So the more we work, the more things change - the tempos change, we don't play songs in the same order, and little things that happen are great, we keep 'em in. 'Cause I tape all the concerts, so I can hear what we can use and what we can't, what be both like - the people and the band." (DB Reader 120)

"I play what we can play, not me. I never play what I can play; I'm always playin' over what I can play. I'm always tempted to play somethin' difficult, and usually it's a ballad ... You have to have a good tone, a workin' tone ... My love for singers makes me play like that on trumpet ... There are some songs that ... they're just made for you." (DB Reader 121)

"We're gettin' away from the chords. Chords, they just get in the way. If I give [the keyboard] a chord, it's the sound I want - and ... the sound can go anywhere. When you take a sound, it only sounds wrong if you don't resolve it to somethin' else. I mean, the next chord makes the first one; it tells on the first chord, the first sound. If you hit somethin' that sounds like a dischord to everybody in the world, you can straighten it out with the next chord. So, we don't play chords ... Not 'chord-chords.' " (DB Reader 122)

"Why do you think Herbie don't want to play [like the Blakey band] anymore? He'd rather hear scratch music. I'd rather hear somebody fall on the piano than to play [like Blakey, for example]. That newness will give you something - more so than all the cliches you've heard from this record, that tape." (DB Reader 122)

"Herbie's ... like what people call a genius; he's something else. But Keith, Chick, they're all crazy like that in the genius way - they play so much there ain't nothin' left for them to do but funk with somethin' else ... Give somebody some kind of goose, give 'em just a little kick. You owe that to music." (DB Reader 122-124)

"You don't listen to a trumpet player for what he's doin'; you listen for the sound, to his sound ... You don't have to play 'The Flight of the Bumblebee' to prove to another trumpet player that you're a good trumpet player. Everybody can do that. The way you change and help music is by tryin' to invent new ways to play, if you're gonna ad lib and be what they call a jazz musician ... Just because you play a flatted fifth doesn't mean somebody's gonna hire you ... If you have a tone, you play notes to match your sound, your tone, if you're gonna make it pleasin' to yourself - and then you can please somebody else with it." (DB Reader 122-123)

"I wouldn't mind [doing an acoustic project]. If the place was all right. You know, people have said I turn my back - but it's not like that. Onstage, there's always a spot that will register more for the horn player; when I was playin' with J.J. Johnson, he used to say, 'I'll give you $10 if you let me sit in your spot tonight.' ... But I would play acoustic with a nice guitar player, or a nice pianist like Keith or Herbie or Chick or George Duke, and record like that - it would be great. Not in Carnegie Hall - because the symphony, they got 70 guys playin' one note. They need some speakers in there. 

You can use acoustic; I've always thought so." (DB Reader 124)

"I didn't know, nobody knew, and so when he started giving me these obscure suggestions like, 'Play the guitar like you don't know how to play'....Well, he cooled me out when he started to do the thing in E, "In a Silent Way." ... Miles didn't even wait, he had the recording light on and I just started playing these real simple things ... But when Miles had Teo Macero play the take back, I was really in shock at how Miles had made me play in a way that I had not been aware of." (Szwed 277)

"What I learned from Miles is that he goes with his feelings of the moment. You have to be able to trust your own human instrument to read what's supposed to happen. That, for me, is the great message from Miles. We would play in huge venues to thousands of people, and he was able to reach those people and have them love the music. They loved it because of a feeling that came from his trumpet playing and the mood of the musicians around him. He was able to convey that to us in unspoken ways, and create a mood through music right there on the spot. Not the same mood as the night before. Different, but picking up on certain things. It made me realize the power of his tradition, which I think is the jazz tradition. I've never met anybody who is more of a bopper." (DB Reader 158)

"I wonder why they always call it the 'Miles Davis School.' ... I just bring out in people what's in them." (DB Reader 99)