Miles in Milan 1964


You'll find a couple of things about my taste in music and musicians.

First, I tend to get fixated on artists and exhaust the oeuvre of their work. In addition, stage presence and musical minutia means more to me than overall technique or the ever elusive perfect performance.

That being said, I'd like to return to Miles Davis and examine some concert footage from Milan Italy in 1964.

The concert is a quintet performance and the musicians are:

Miles Davis – trumpet

Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone

Herbie Hancock – piano

Ron Carter – bass

Tony Williams – drums

I have owned this bootleg recording and video for years now and am still knocked flat by several of the ensembles stage characteristics.

First, they look great in formal wear and this trait is representative of their respect for the art and audience.

Second, although it appears to be a formal occasion, the group could not seem more relaxed. Notice how at the end of every solo Miles walks off stage as if their is no one watching, filming, recording, or judging.

Third, the story I've always heard about this concert is that the concert promoter told the ensemble not to practice because he was not paying them for a performance, but rather, for a practice session.

The promoter was asking the group to seek out and capture those magical organic moments that can arise in live performance which might grow stale from too much choreography.

It is amazing to me that the ensemble would be as cool and collected as they are without the benefit of exhaustive practice, but this is why jazz and classical musicians are different breeds by nature.

Fourth, Miles is completely owned in this concert by Wayne Shorter. Time and again his solos are more impressive and florid. Miles may have been the marquee name of this concert, but the man is made by the company he keeps.

Fifth, the piano accompaniment during the instrumental solos is perfect. Herbie Hancock has a perfect sense of place within this ensemble, and provides the necessary harmonic framework during the others solos to amplify their work, without ever overstepping his bounds.

Sixth, the drummer, Tony Williams, is only nineteen years old, yet he performs with competence and confidence.

Seventh, Ron Carter is a giant with banana fingers.

The clip features the jazz standard, All of You.