Gregory Davis: Son of Miles
AAJ: How do you feel now that the book is out? Has there been good feedback?
GD: There was a small book party at Mo Pitkins [Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction, NYC], a small venue. Greg Masters, the guy that puts on Miles Mondays [a weekly Miles Davis listening event at Pitkin's], he's a class act. Every Monday he plays Miles Davis music from every paradigm and from every era. He had called me and said, "Greg,would you like to do a little book party at Mo Pitkin's? In appreciation for what he does every Monday, I said okay. [Early December, 2006].
We need bigger venues, that's what we need . This book has got to fly. It's a sixteen-year-old baby. It might be a contradiction in terms, but it's been in the process for sixteen years. Some publishers thought this was gonna be a tirade or some kind of bitter book because he's a guy that was left out of the will. But it shows a different side of the man. It shows a personal side heretofore no one has seen from someone who lived with him, who was his son, grew up with him, cried with him, laughed with him, fought with him, who was in the trenches with him. Whatever he needed, I was there with him. Never been heard or seen before, from someone who really knows the man, who traveled with him from the age of ten years old.
As he got older and started ailing, he would call for me whenever he needed someone he could trust and rely on, out of love and respect. I never looked at him like a piece of meat, like, "We better get his name on this will. I did what I did out of love and respect.
AAJ: What was it like going through the process, going through all these memories? Was it fun, was it difficult at times?
GD: It was really fun at times and painful at times also. But I remember the good times. I have no hang-ups on the bad times. I'm not fused to any bad times. He was a man who went through the gamut of emotions and scenarios, as many different scenarios as you can think of. It was a full life, an extraordinary life. Amazing, amazing, gifted person. I was very honored to be with him and to be beside this man.
He was a social mover. People like Bogart, people like Elvis. These are social movers. He's the man that changed the sound of the trumpet. Louis Armstrong changed it, then he came along after Armstrong and nobody could touch him. You know it was Miles Davis if you heard him. He was in the forefront of every music paradigm. Not for the sake of change, but the music dictated to him that he must do it this way, or that way.
Even when he was in his house for a period of absence from the stage or from touring, the great musicians to the rookies would say, "What should we play, Miles? He only gave that to himself and his band. But they would come to him and ask him that. They knew that he knew.
AAJ: Some of the stories you got from your mom. Is she still around?
GD: She has Alzheimer's. She's in California for a warmer climate than the Midwest and St. Louis. St. Louis is very cold. I have to go see my mother.
AAJ: You mentioned in the book that you didn't like a lot of the other books on your father. I've read just about everything on him. I thought some of them were fairly thorough. Especially Ian Carr's and John Szwed's.
GD: I didn't say I didn't like any of them. Who's the guy that wrote Space Is the Place about Sun Ra?
AAJ: John Szwed.
GD: Yeah, John Szwed. He's a nice guy. I did an interview with him. I was appearing at a place called the Baby Jupiter with a band. He came in and said he was doing a book and wanted to do an interview. We had lunch. He's a nice guy and he wrote nice things about me. I appreciate his book.
AAJ: That's the first book that I read about Miles where somebody actually talked to you. I remember being surprised because writers always gave the impression that Miles didn't have anything to do with his kids, or very little. Then all of a sudden in John's book it talked about how you did this together and that together. I remember thinking, "This is the first time I've read that.
GD: He approached me in a gentlemanly fashion. I complied. It's no problem with me. Even though I was constructing my own book. I'm not funny like that. This [Miles] is a great man. This is a man that's given to the world. He's like public domain.
AAJ: Paul Tingen did the Electric Miles book. He never met your father, but through talking to Chick [Corea], and [Jack] DeJohnette and Dave Holland, I thought he did a very nice job.
GD: The reason I don't appreciate some of those books is because they never extended themselves to try to reach out to me. I'm still living. If you want to speak to somebody that knows the man, speak to his son. Speak to the one who traveled with him, that he called on to be with him, to be by his side. To be his protector, his assistant road man, whatever he needed. Just don't write a book about the man and put something in there that he don't know me. I don't appreciate that. I'm available. Find me.
I've been living in New York for years. There's someone that knows me that can get in contact with me if you're writing a book. That's what I don't appreciate about these people writing these books. They never do interviews with people that know the man, but they claim that the book has some factual material in it. How can it be factual if you don't interview his son?