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STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: A Miles Davis Sampler


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In honor of the 83rd anniversary of Miles Davis' birth this past Tuesday, today we offer a video tribute with samples of sounds from various periods of the trumpeter's storied career, plus an interview with Davis himself. A couple of these clips have been featured before here on StLJN, but it's been a while, and besides, some things are worth watching more than once.

First up is what is probably the single most-viewed Miles Davis video clip online, a version of “So What" recorded for CBS TV in New York on April 2, 1959. The band features John Coltrane on sax, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums; the other musicians seen are part of the Gil Evans Orchestra, who performed on the same telecast.

The second clip is a 1967 rendition of Thelonious Monk's standard “'Round Midnight," a tune that Miles had been playing since the 1950s, here given an update by Davis' classic 1960s quintet with Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums) at a show in Stockholm, Sweden.

By 1973, Miles was deep into his electric period, as demonstrated by the version of “Calypso Frelimo" from the Newport Jazz Festival seen in the third position. A couple of years later, Davis began a five-year hiatus from music, battling health and drug problems and eventually returning in 1981 with the album The Man With The Horn.

Video number four was recorded in 1985 in Berlin, and features Davis performing his take on the then-recent R&B hit “Something's On Your Mind". The band here includes Mike Stern on guitar, Bob Berg on sax, Marilyn Mazur on percussion, Robert Irving III on keyboards, Davis' nephew Vince Wilburn on drums, and Angus Thomas on bass.

The fifth clip is from the turn of the 1990s, and shows Davis performing the tune “Hannibal" on the TV show Night Music, which was hosted, as you can see, by another St. Louis native, saxophonist David Sanborn.

Last but not least, there's an interview Davis did in 1989 with the CBS program 60 Minutes. It's in two parts that run about 15 minutes total.

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