Jon Miller

Drummer and Bandleader based in Victoria BC

My Jazz Story

Published on: 2016-05-27

The first two pieces of jazz vinyl I bought (in 1980's!): 1) "Charlie Parker with Miles Davis" and 2) Miles Davis "Water Babies." The biggest impression I had from both these very different albums was feeling such a grown-up absence of clingy audience- pleasing "give them what they want" that seemed to be written into the DNA of the music I normally listened to at the time, (even -or especially- the pretentious art rock). The way this music seemed to expect the listener to bring themselves to it was really new to me. This seeming aloofness was weird to me at first but I grew to love it, though it didn't stop me from still enjoying the Ramones and Genesis, Zeppelin and Talking Heads. This general perception still unites these two records in my mind though they are very different from each other in so many ways. In terms of recording quality, for example, I remember not really hearing but rather more sensing the drums on the older Parker recording, while the sound, drive and intensity of Tony Williams' drumming on Water Babies made an immediate and lasting impression. Who is this drummer? Oh my God! Its funny to me now how at the time I just couldn't figure out the gap in style from one album to the other, how the major artist in common (Miles Davis) could sound so completely different on these two albums. At this time my point of reference might have been Eric Clapton's early work with the Yardbirds vs. his 1980's radio-friendly output, with the band Cream in the middle. This was a traceable range to me, whereas Be-Bop era to early fusion Miles Davis seemed to not even be the product of the same artist. I remember it being quite a puzzle! Of course about 50 albums fall between these two that would have helped me to connect the dots.