Night Lights Classic Jazz

Jazz Quotes: Miles Davis

Miles Davis Bob BergMiles Davis, in addition to being one of the most talented and distinctive musicians to grace the annals of jazz history, had a unique reputation when it came to his speaking voice–both for his hoarse whisper and his pithy, rather Zen-like way of communicating with his band members, which sometimes resulted in amusing exchanges, such as his retort to John Coltrane’s lament that he couldn’t stop soloing: “Try taking the saxophone out of your mouth.” While working on an upcoming Night Lights show about Miles’ early-1980s period, I came across this story about saxophonist Bob Berg in Paul Tingen’s Miles Beyond: the Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991:

Miles once told an amusing anecdote about how he helped rein in Berg’s tendency to play a lot. “I used to tell him, ‘Bob, why do you play in this spot? You’re not supposed to play in this spot,” Miles related. “He said, ‘It sounded so good, Chief, I had to play to it.’ I said, ‘The reason it sounded so good is because you wasn’t playing.”

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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