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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.”

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