Night Lights Classic Jazz

A Brief Convergence: Miles Davis and Sam Rivers in 1964

In 1964 Miles Davis had an exciting new rhythm section in place, but he was still searching for a tenor saxophonist. Enter the multi-talented Sam Rivers.

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Miles and SamIn 1964 Miles Davis had a new rhythm section in place–Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums–but he was still searching for a tenor saxophonist. Since John Coltrane’s departure in 1960, Miles had gone through Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Jimmy Heath, and George Coleman; he really wanted Wayne Shorter, but Shorter was still committed to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In the meantime, the teenaged Tony Williams enthusiastically recommended a fellow Boston musician who was two years older than Miles–Sam Rivers, who had played everything from bebop and progressive big-band to r & b (he was working as T-Bone Walker’s musical director at the time) and free jazz.

Rivers filled the tenor chair for several months in 1964, and his time with Miles is one of the more fascinating chapters in the Davis saga. One LP–Miles in Tokyo–is the only musical documentation that Columbia has ever provided of this particular ensemble. This week on “Night Lights” I’ll be playing unreleased music from that same tour, featuring Rivers with Davis on “Autumn Leaves,” “Oleo,” and “Stella By Starlight”–tunes that were not played on Miles in Tokyo. (By the way, these unreleased dates will not be included in the forthcoming Miles Davis 1963-64 Sony box, either–not sure why!) We’ll also hear selections from Fuchsia Swing Song, the album that Rivers recorded for Blue Note later that year with Davis sidemen Ron Carter and Tony Williams, as well as pianist Jaki Byard.

Music Heard On This Episode

Oleo
Miles Davis — Kyoto 1964
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Oleo
Miles Davis — Kyoto 1964

Notes: Sonny Rollins composition.

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Stella By Starlight
Miles Davis — Kyoto 1964
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Autumn Leaves
Miles Davis — Tokyo 7/12/64
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Fuchsia Swing Song
Sam Rivers — Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964)

Notes: With Boston pianist Jaki Byard and Davis sidemen Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Rivers composed all of the pieces played on this album.

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Luminous Monolith
Sam Rivers — Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964)
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Downstairs Blues Upstairs
Sam Rivers — Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964)
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Beatrice
Sam Rivers — Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note, 1964)

Notes: Written for, and named after, his wife Bea.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • Hans Koers

    David,

    I know this is an older show and I’m a bit late, but the title of Sam Rivers’ Blue Note album “Fuchsia Swing Song” is misspelled, both in your notes above and on the playlist at the right. A fuchsia is a flower named after German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuchsia

    Best,
    Hans

  • Hans Koers

    P.S.

    Re: the spelling of Fuchsia Swing Song – see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Rivers#Blue_Note_era and http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gcfoxqtgld6e

    Best,
    Hans

  • http://indianapublicmedia.org/nightlights/ David Brent Johnson

    Hans, hey, thanks for bringing this to my attention–fixed per your heads-up.

  • http://indianapublicmedia.org/nightlights/ David Brent Johnson

    Hans, hey, thanks for bringing this to my attention–fixed per your heads-up.

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