NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 38

Miles Davis: A New Revolution in Sound By KOFI NATAMBU PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM PALUMBO On July 17, 1955 at the second annual Newport Jazz Festival, Davis was literally invited at the last minute to join a group of prominent Jazz musicians in a staged twenty minute jam session that had been organized by the festival’s famed music director, impresario, and promoter George Wein as part of an “opening act” for the then highly popular white headliner Dave Brubeck. “That period between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s was an era in which the resources of Jazz were being consolidated and refined and the range of its sources broadened. Some of the Jazz of this period reached across class and age lines and unified black audiences. Young people could see this music as “bad” in much the same sense that James Brown used the word, and older black people could see its links to black tradition.” —John Szwed To the yang of ‘hard bop’ Davis brought stillness, melodic beauty, and understatement; to the yin of ‘cool’ he brought rich sonority, blues feeling, and an enriched rhythmic capacity that moved beyond swing to funk. By refusing to color-code either his music or his audience, Davis rose at the end of the 1950s to the summit of artistic excellence.” 36 — Marsha Bayles Scheduled merely as a quick programming lead-in to stage changes between featured performances by the Modern Jazz Quartet (mjq), the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras, Lester Young, and Brubeck, nothing special was planned in advance for this short set which, like most jam sessions, was completely improvised by the musicians performing onstage. Davis was then the least well known musician in the assembled group which was made up of Thelonious Monk, individuals from the mjq, and other individual members of various groups playing in the festival. Wein just happened to be a big fan of Davis and added him &V6W6R