NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 20

“Cool Miles. Randy brought some Perrier water and fruit juices to make homemade spritzers,” I added. 18 “No shit? Man that sounds good, I wanna taste one of them!” Judy, Miles’ attractive young housekeeper (who obviously doubled as his occasional concubine) assisted us in putting our beverages into the refrigerator. Once we finally got set up and started working on music, Miles pretty much followed our lead as we jammed on the repertoire of our Chicago based group. This consisted mostly of music composed by myself or by Randy Hall, or by he and I together. I can’t say that there was very much innovation or new creation initially. However, the infusion of polychords by Miles on the organ felt intrusive at first then strangely inventive, pushing the compositions— and our ears— into new places that fostered many musical aha moments. His dissonant chordal approach altered our soundscapes with new harmonic tension and release. This fueled the frenzy of our patting feet and bobbing1979-Jheri curled, heads. I noticed that Miles’ organ playing sounded vastly less sophisticated than his complex acoustic piano technique I had observed on our first day alone together. But I knew that the sound of the organ itself dictated a more limited approach without a sustain pedal and due to the absence of natural overtones indigenous to the piano. Still, I could tell that he played with high sensitivity; listening and interactively responding to everything he heard. Of course, I knew his “outside chords” were related to what he had shown me on the piano, but I felt a sense of reticence when it came to integrating his technique into my own playing within this particular context. I felt obligated to stick to the script and maintain the stylistic nuances we’d established in Chicago. I feared that the others would think I was just imitating Miles. Besides, Miles was already playing the role of himself. So, his private instruction would remain my personal treasure to unpack in the months to come… and to eventually make my own. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 18 For eight to ten hours a day, rivers of sound streamed throughout that room with complete freedom of musical expression. Randy slid in with flying guitar phrases punctuated by dynamic decibels driven by the solid drum rhythms of Vince (Miles’ nephew). I contributed harmonies and ascending and descending keyboard licks playing off the confident angular bass lines laid down by Felton Crews. All this coalesced with Miles’ stabbing chord clusters and seemingly formless forays into other worlds. His organ splashes acted like a vivid over-painting that redefined the point of focus on top of our more homogeneous background colors of Chicago-styled funk-fusion. We began to establish an enthusiastic work ethic, ending each long day feeling more productive and anticipating what else was possible tomorrow. We were completely hyped to be playing with the greatest jazz trumpet innovator to ever live. Yet, somehow we didn’t think it was so odd that he never picked up his horn. In fact, his trumpet never even emerged from the case. No one thought to ask, “Miles, when are we gonna hear your trumpet?” Almost two months went by before I finally, at the insistence of his producer Teo Macero, asked Miles that question. (He and Teo had a famous love hate relationship that prevented Teo from asking Miles the question himself without being told to “Go fuck off!”) Miles, looking a little stunned hearing the question from me, said: “What? You want to hear me play trumpet? What is it? You guys don’t like my organ playing?” “No,” I said, a little apprehensive, “your organ playing sounds great!” I reassured him. “But we’re just missing the sound of your horn, you know what I mean?” “Ok,” Miles said, “I’ll play something next week.” When he said this he looked a little dubious, his eyes just staring off in space. He played the next week but it wasn’t enough time to get his chops back up to where he needed them to be after a 7 year hiatus from not playing the horn. In truth, he sounded like a beginner and we were both shocked and disappointed. After the first five-day workweek, Miles gave us the weekend off. Maybe, in retrospect, he was actually giving himself the weekend off. In any case, he invited Randy and I to come by the following evening for a special fish dish to be prepared by his neighbor Jack, who was a schoolteacher. Miles knew that Randy and I were fellow food prep enthusiasts and Jack had a unique recipe to share. Besides this, Randy and I were the principle collaborators and Miles indicated that he wanted to talk shop about our compositional and arranging methodologies. Since the weather was so nice on that Saturday evening, Randy and I decided to walk over from the Sheraton Center hotel. We decided to take the route from 52nd an  ?]?[?YH?\??H[?B?X?X?X?]?H??\??\???[X?\??\??H?\?H\???XY??[KY\??[??[?????Y?^K??HZ?Y?[?[???HH?[?XZ\???Z]?[??Y?]X?HX\??]?]?[Y??]?YH????[?Y[??H??\?[??[X?]\??[???H?[??Y]B????\?[?[?Y[???\??Y?H??[?????H[\?\????]Y[?H???????YH?Z[[???\????]H?[??B???[?\?HYH??Y?H?[^]?^\??\?H?\?H[[????x?&Y?]?\??Y[??[??X?Y??H?[YH?\??YH?B???[\?\?H?\?X[??[???[???]?]??\?^\??\?H?B???Y????]??YH?[??\??\???'\?H\?H\????\?H?x?&\?Z[\?X\??8?'HH??[?H?[H??[??B??X?H?[?\???[YYZ\?[?HZ\??????']8?&\??YO?YXZ???H^x?&\?HB?[?\??X??\??]H[??\??X????[YB???[????]\??[?K8?'HH\??Y ???K?L??L? L?? ?SB??