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Gregory Davis: Son of Miles

R.J. DeLuke By

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AAJ: Are you judgmental about him using the cocaine, are you angry, or is it just one of those things that you couldn't control?

GD: Nobody could control it. I talked to him. I was his father at times, trying to get him not to use so much. The thing is, if you have a young girl on your shoulder that's a coke freak, you know, you want to do more for her because you want to party with her. What are you gonna do? Your physical weakness overcomes you. You submit to doing the stuff. Even if you want to change. That's what happened to him. You have to keep yourself away from all the hangers-on.

He was like a fish out of water when he wasn't working. A lot of athletes are like that. They have extra energy they don't know what to do with when they're not working. He was like that. He paid for it. He became Mr. Hyde. He was Dr. Jekyll with the music, but he became Mr. Hyde. He wasn't doing anything positive.

AAJ: You were around him in that period from 1975-80 when he didn't play. Was it as dismal as people used to say it was? They said all he did was do drugs and have sex with women and his house was dark and dirty. Which I'm sure is true in part. But more recently people have written that it wasn't as bad as many writers tried to paint it. He did play some music. I think it was John Szwed who said he played some music with Larry Coryell at one point. And he would tinker at the piano and try and figure out tunes once in a while.

GD: He did tinker at the piano. I remember him. Music never left him. He might have had a revolving door with women and drugs at certain times. But music always consumed him. He would find melodies and write little melodies out.

The bottom on Miles Davis is that he loved beautiful melodies. He was one person that could play "Bye, Bye Blackbird or "You Don't Know What Love Is and make it his own. He owned those tunes. Someone else may have written it, but when he put that mute on that horn, he changed the sound of the horn and made those songs his. He always loved melody. Even though he played fusion, he put melody in fusion. People don't understand how he mixed jazz and rock. He could do it. He had the genius.

AAJ: I don't want to rehash the stuff with the will and everything, but has your family read the book?

GD: They've been on record in newspaper that they're ignoring it, but that's silly. If they say they're ignoring it, you know they're reading it. They have to read it. People tell me you can't be a Miles Davis fan without reading that book. They have to say they're ignoring it because they have other plans in the works. I don't know the details. They're going to have to come around. People are beginning to understand the cover's being pulled off of them. They're having to explain themselves.

AAJ: What about your band, are you touring with a group?

GD: We have to go into a studio with the MDX band. We have some beautiful music. The music is made for large venues like arts centers and Madison Square Garden. This is not a club kind of band. I've got a guitarist that stretches out like Jimi Hendrix. He needs stacks of Marshall speakers.

AAJ: Is it fusion, or how would you describe it?

GD: There are no more boundaries. I would say it has beautiful melodies in it. It's mixed with some blues, some rock, some jazz. It's like jazz meets blues, jazz meets fusion, jazz meets techno. There are no more boundaries. This music is not hard to listen to. That has become such a problem.

Pure jazz, which is beautiful, is an area. But it's a small, diminishing area. People are not that esoteric. They can't get with all of that stretching out. People are more pop oriented now. You have to deal with the times and you have to put your creative qualities where they are most expeditious.

AAJ: You don't have a CD yet.

GD: No. We need to get into the studio and do that. We've been rehearsing it. We have the music already laid out. We need some financial backing for that.

AAJ: Who else, besides, obviously your father, influenced your playing?

GD: Clark Terry. Dizzy Gillespie. Louis Armstrong. Those are the primary ones that I listened to and take bits and pieces of what they did. You can never do what they did. You have to take bits and pieces and keep turning them around and see if they can fit your repertoire. I'm not trying to be my father, I'm trying to do my own thing. If it comes out strong like he did it, then so be it.

The name of the band is MDX, the X-factor you can say is the continuation after Miles Davis. The mystic element after Miles. The MDX band. People go for acronyms now. There are all these bands (on the scene) that are acronyms. But this band means something because it's named after a great man and it has the X-factor, meaning the factor that's after him, the continuation after Miles.

AAJ: Would you ever want to do anything like play with Erin (his half-brother and a drummer)?

GD: Of course. Sure. I have no problem with that.

AAJ: That might be cool, I would think.

GD: I have no problem with that. I'm not one that divides family. I'm one right now that's trying to unify the family; get it back together and not let money be an issue, greed be an issue and not let small things like that be an issue. This legacy is bigger than all of us. It's not about greed not money to me. It never has been.

I did what I did out of love and respect for my father. I never thought of him as a piece of meat. "We'd better get his signature on this will so we'll get something after he's dead. I never thought of him like that. Maybe I should have, in a way, because you see what happened.


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