Monday, July 24, 2006

newton and miles

Nat Hentoff joins the Miles Davis R&RHoF induction debate (remember that?), mainly responding to Ben Ratliff's article.

Recently, hearing a radio interview with one of my favorite musicians regardless of genre—Toots Thielemans—my inability to salute Miles Davis as a rock and roller became more meaningful, at least to me. Toots has worked with Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Zoot Sims, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson and many other jazz creators—as well as with Paul Simon, Billy Joel and other non-jazz performers. But he said in the interview, whatever the gig, “My center of gravity is jazz.” While Miles Davis could never purge his music of jazz—nor would he have wanted to—the performances that resulted in his becoming, posthumously, a member of rock royalty, did not have jazz at their center of gravity.
Lots of those Hentoff columns are worth reading. In April, he pre-empted my little Euro-US discussion. A year ago, he recounted some fascinating Clark Terry anecdotes.