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Chick Remembers Miles

Scott H. Thompson By

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In celebration of Miles Davis' birthday, Chick Corea sent this note to me on the day Miles passed away (September 28, 1991). I'd like to share it with you all...
Even though I played in his band for only two years, Miles has been a stable presence in my life since I began listening to him on recordings in the early '50s.

Along with my father, Armando, there were two buddies I had—Joel Karp and Lenny Nelson—who used to share my enthusiasm for Miles. We could stay in touch with the local record store in Boston and make sure our friend there would alert us to each new Miles release that came out. Then we'd get the record and go home and where it out.

The first time I saw Miles live was at the old Storyville—George Wein's first jazz club. It was an incredible night for me. By that time, Miles had Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and this new studious-looking guy on piano. I was so disappointed not to see Wynton Kelly there—he had become one of my favorites on piano. So it was difficult for me to appreciate Bill Evans that day. It wasn't until I heard Bill on record that I began to appreciate his genius. Anyway, hearing the magnificent group Miles brought that day helped me set a high ideal for myself and the quality of music I wanted to strive for.

Miles created so many bands with the atmosphere of freedom to create that he helped inspire a spirit of creation that I feel changed the music world and will be a positive influence into the future.

Miles was always anything but conservative and "agreeable" and always had the courage to play his music and live his life the way he wanted. And because the quality of his art was always so high, the whole legacy of recorded music and all the lives of audiences and fellow musicians that he touched are and will remain a contribution of the greatest magnitude to the human race's striving for freedom.

Here's to you, Miles—thanks for giving us the joy of music.

Chick Corea


Photo credit: Rainer Alexander

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