RARA-AVIS: HARDBOILED/belatedly, Davis as icon for most of the wrong reasons : John

From: Todd Mason ( Todd.Mason@tvguide.com)
Date: 09 Jan 2002

The newish HARDBOILED is uneven, as was the previous issue, in a way that is reflected even in the production values of my copy...HB is the only magazine of which I'm aware which is pefect-bound (glue-binding) but also photocopied. Proofing is highly variable, some of the spot illos don't repro so well. G. Hournier's bit of faintly experimental writing stands out, and while all stories in the issue are declared new on the back cover, the Andrew Vachss is apparently a reprint. And the price has reached a new high. But nevertheless, it moves. I'll probably have more to say, later, about it, when it's at hand.

My thanks to Ted White for bringing this to my attention; I missed John's initial lovely post:

-----Original Message----- From: dave [mailto: birdlives@earthlink.net]

I'm sorry to git down, but you sound like one ignorant motherfucker.

--As one who has been listening to jazz all his life, and never felt the need to single out a performer for reflexive worship, I suspect my ignorance may be less vast than that of some, particularly some who could make some of the comments below.

To call Miles overrated is to know nothing about jazz. I don't know how he "damaged" Coltrane's career, either.

--By insisting that Coltrane's free work was "anti-jazz" and encouraging his sycophants to do the same. To call Davis overrated is to know something about the history of jazz, as opposed to furthering idolatry.

Cecil Taylor holds no candle, and Ornette does show genius, but he also shows no respect, by playing trumpet and violin, without ever taking a lesson. Miles talks alot about how he dug Ornette, btw.

--But not when it counted, as Coleman was establishing himself. When he did the absolute opposite. And John Lewis was Coleman's champion, among others
(including, in the jazz press, Ted White). And, have you actually listened to Cecil Taylor?

Miles is almost single handedly responsible for John Lewis' career. Not to mention how close he was to Gil Evans, the one white man he loved. (And did countless albums with.) His
"Birth Of the Cool" sides invented third stream in 1948-49! Everything afterwards came outta those sides.

--Davis is over-credited with what was a very collaborative effort among a number of folk, including Evans, Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and others. John Lewis's career owed essentially nothing to Davis. Duke Ellington was not alone in doing Third Stream before the "Birth of the Cool" sessions were assembled; hell, classic ragtime is essentially 3S, and at least much of Harlem ragtime, as well.

Likewise, Miles invented "fusion" in the sixties.

--He began playing fusion, didn't invent. He was the most important player in that field, but hardly the only innovator.

  I'm sorry, but I will brook no criticism of Miles. No matter what Dizzy said. Miles always respected and loved Dizzy, but I saw them all in the last years, and Dizzy's music, almost always sucked. Miles, at least, had some moments. But in the sixties, and early seventies -- those Miles sides are ... total motherfuckers.

--Thanks for explicating, as White suggests, the very problem the Cult of Miles creates for any reasonable assessment of jazz in the latter half of the twentieth century.

I'm glad you consider me the same class of thing as those Davis Band sides, so I'll return the favor--you're truly one j-a mo'fo'. TM

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