"Miles had a genius for finding and creating songs that made a perfect canvas for the improviser."—Bill Charlap

Experience the essential, indubitably cool sounds of Miles Davis, the embodiment of jazz.

Miles Davis is an emblem of jazz, a man who always found his own way and in the process, opened doors for all musicians. He had a genius for finding and creating songs that made a perfect canvas for the improviser. When he played tunes—such as Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way, or JJ Johnson’s Lament—everyone else started playing them. His conception of jazz and that of the many musicians he influenced will forever be a part of the music universe.

Witness some of the most brilliant players of jazz today highlight Davis’ songs—such as “My Funny Valentine,” “Autumn Leaves”—and innovative compositions—“Donna Lee,” “All Blues,” “Solar”—at this not to be missed performance.

Read a special commentary on Miles Davis by Jazz in July artistic director Bill Charlap in the Program Notes.

Jeremy Pelt, trumpet
Ralph Moore, tenor sax (a rare New York appearance)
Steve Wilson, alto sax
Renee Rosnes, piano
Bill Charlap, piano
Peter Washington, bass
Lewis Nash, drums

Program includes:
“All Blues”
“All of You”
“Autumn Leaves”
“Bye Bye Blackbird”
“Dear Old Stockholm”
“Donna Lee”
“If I Were a Bell”
“My Funny Valentine”
“‘Round Midnight”
“Someday My Prince Will Come”

 

Join us for more Jazz! This event can be purchased as part of a 2-concert, 4-concert or 6-concert package.

 

Jazz in July is partially endowed by a generous gift from Simona and Jerome A. Chazen.

Miles Davis performs “Jean Pierre” at 1982 Grammy Awards

Miles Davis performs “Jojo” and is interviewed on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” June 14, 1989

Miles Davis and his group, including John Coltrane, performing “So What” on “The Robert Herridge Theater,” on CBS, Apr 2, 1959

For more information and to see the full half-hour program, visit openculture.com

Jeremy Pelt is interviewed and seen performing on “The Pace Report,” Feb 12, 2011

On the Blog

(Click below to expand info.)

Bill Charlap on why Miles Davis will always be central to our musical universe

Bill Charlap writes:

It’s twelve noon on May 26, 2014. As I write this, the northwest corner of 77th Street and West End Avenue is being christened “Miles Davis Way.” It is a fitting birthday tribute to an icon of all music, a man who always found his own way and in the process, opened doors for all musicians.

Miles was always at the forefront. In his early twenties, he played and recorded with the genius of modern music, Charlie Parker. Parker was like J. S. Bach in that he understood everything that came before him and he flung open the doors for every improvising jazz musician who followed him.

Miles absorbed Bird’s innovations but more importantly, he always sounded like himself. As overwhelming as Parker’s influence was, and as much as Miles idolized Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry, his inner compass simply wouldn’t allow him to become an imitation. He refused to play a false note, one that he didn’t feel. His purity and depth made all of his musical choices honest and profound.

From his earliest recordings, Miles’ singing lyricism was always a part of his playing. He had a sixth sense at recognizing and embracing the most important creative forces of the musical times he lived in. He surrounded himself with the best musicians and inspired them to the apex of their creativity.

Miles had a genius for finding and creating songs that made a perfect canvas for the improviser. When he played tunes such as Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” or JJ Johnson’s “Lament,” everyone else started playing them. With just a few alterations, Miles could personalize the compositions of other musicians, like he did with George Shearing’s Conception, which became Miles Davis’ “Deception.” While with Charlie Parker, Miles composed Donna Lee, bebop’s ultimate perpetual motion on the harmony of Indiana. His own compositions such as “Solar,” “Four” and “So What” are as balanced as one of his beautiful trumpet solos.

For this concert, I’ve been thinking about how the “standard” repertoire for jazz musicians has evolved. An important part of what has become prerequisite material has been derived from the popular songs that Miles chose to play in his great quintets and sextets of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Songs like “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” Cole Porter’s “All of You,” Richard Rodgers’ “My Funny Valentine,” Frank Loesser’s “If I Were A Bell,” Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight,” Victor Young’s “Stella By Starlight,” and many others. In many ways, Miles Davis is responsible for these songs becoming such an important part of the canon of American music.

 This performance will feature some of the most brilliant players in jazz today: trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore (in a rare New York appearance), alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash, and myself at the piano. We’ve all grown up with this music and Miles’ conception will forever be a part of our musical universe.

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Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

On Miles Davis, by Bill Charlap

It’s twelve noon on May 26, 2014. As I write this, the northwest corner of 77th Street and West End Avenue is being christened “Miles Davis Way.” It is a fitting birthday tribute to an icon of all music, a man who always found his own way and in the process, opened doors for all musicians.

Miles was always at the forefront. In his early twenties, he played and recorded with the genius of modern music, Charlie Parker. Parker was like J. S. Bach, in that he understood everything that came before him, and he flung open the doors for every improvising jazz musician who followed him.

Miles absorbed Bird’s innovations but more importantly, he always sounded like himself. As overwhelming as Parker’s influence was, and as much as Miles idolized Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry, his inner compass simply wouldn’t allow him to become an imitation. He refused to play a false note, one that he didn’t feel. His purity and depth made all of his musical choices honest and profound.

From his earliest recordings, Miles’s singing lyricism was always a part of his playing. He had a sixth sense at recognizing and embracing the most important creative forces of the musical times he lived in. He surrounded himself with the best musicians and inspired them to the apex of their creativity.

Miles had a genius for finding and creating songs that made a perfect canvas for the improviser. When he played tunes such as Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” or J.J. Johnson’s “Lament,” everyone else started playing them. With just a few alterations, Miles could personalize the compositions of other musicians, like he did with George Shearing’s “Conception,” which became Miles Davis’ “Deception.” While with Charlie Parker, Miles composed “Donna Lee,” bebop’s ultimate perpetual motion on the harmony of “Indiana.” His own compositions such as “Solar,” “Four” and “So What” are as balanced as one of his beautiful trumpet solos.

For this concert, I’ve been thinking about how the “standard” repertoire for jazz musicians has evolved. An important part of what has become prerequisite material has been derived from the popular songs that Miles chose to play in his great quintets and sextets of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Songs like “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” Cole Porter’s “All of You,” Richard Rodgers’ “My Funny Valentine,” Frank Loesser’s “If I Were A Bell,” Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight,” Victor Young’s “Stella By Starlight” and many others. In many ways, Miles Davis is responsible for these songs becoming such an important part of the canon of American music.

This performance will feature some of the most brilliant players in jazz today: trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore (in a rare New York appearance), alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash and myself at the piano. We’ve all grown up with this music and Miles’s conception will forever be a part of our musical universe.

© 2014 Bill Charlap

Photo: Street sign; Greg Thomas, from theroot.com
Photo: Charlie Parker & Miles Davis playing at New York's Three Deuces Club in 1947; William P.Gottlieb

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Miles Davis: A biography from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Miles Davis is one of the key figures in the history of jazz, and his place in vanguard of that pantheon is secure. His induction as a performer into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a subtler and less obvious matter. Davis never played rock or rhythm & blues, though he experimented with funk grooves on 1972’s On the Corner and in some of his later bands. However, his work intrigued a sizable segment of rock’s more ambitious fans in a way that no other serious jazz figure had ever done – and not retroactively but while he was alive and making some of his most challenging music. In particular, the boldly experimental soundscapes of Davis’ 1969 album Bitches Brew spoke to the sensibilities of rock fans who’d been digesting the Grateful Dead’s expansive improvisations. Davis’ was acutely attuned to his environment and he once remarked, “We play what the day recommends.”

Click here for the full bio.

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Guest Artists Bios

Jeremy Pelt, trumpet

Jeremy Pelt began his career performing with such notable ensembles as the Mingus, Roy Hargrove and Duke Ellington big bands, and he has been a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band. He now tours the world with his own ensembles and with others; he will spend virtually the entire autumn in Europe leading his quartet and appearing as a guest with various ensembles. As a leader, Mr. Pelt has released 11 albums; his most recent are Face Forward, Jeremy; and Water and Earth. As a sideman, he has made more than 100 CDs and has played with such luminaries as Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, John Hicks, Cedar Walton and Nancy Wilson. His website is jeremypelt.net.
Photo: Gulnara Khamatova

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Ralph Moore, tenor sax

Making his Jazz in July debut, Ralph Moore has been playing tenor sax for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” under Kevin Eubanks for the past 15 years. Born in London, he graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and came to New York where he was in great demand as a sideman, performing and recording with artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Brown, J.J. Johnson and Oscar Peterson. He also made several albums as a leader. During his “Tonight Show” tenure Mr. Moore had time only to collaborate in a few jazz ensembles, including Escape from New York, featuring other band members. Now he has resumed his life as a jazz musician.

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Steve Wilson, alto sax

Steve Wilson has been a first-call choice for jazz’s foremost artists, and has made more than 100 recordings with artists including Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Maria Schneider. He has emerged as a leader in his own right, making seven CDs, prompting the Wall Street Journal article, “The Sideman Becomes the Star.” Mr. Wilson leads his own quartet, Wilsonian’s Grain; their debut recording, Live at the Village Vanguard, will be released early in 2015. He also co-leads a trio with pianist Renee Rosnes and bass player Peter Washington, and he performs in a duo with drummer Lewis Nash—their debut CD will be released in August. Last September he was appointed an associate professor at The City College of New York. His website is stevewilsonmusic.com.
Photo: John Abbott

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Renee Rosnes, piano

Renee Rosnes has toured and recorded with many of the greatest jazz masters, including Joe Henderson, J. J. Johnson, James Moody, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Hutcherson. She was a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, and she frequently performs with bassist Ron Carter’s Quartet. She also leads her own band, which appeared at New York’s Village Vanguard the first week of this month. She has recorded 14 CDs as a leader, including the recent Manhattan Rain, as well as Double Portrait, a two-piano recording with her husband, Bill Charlap. As a distinguished composer and arranger, Ms. Rosnes has had many works performed at Jazz in July, and she serves as artistic consultant to the series. Her website is reneerosnes.com.
Photo: John Abbott

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Peter Washington, bass

Peter Washington has a discography of more than 450 recordings. Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Washington played classical bass as a teen and majored in English literature at UC Berkeley, where he became interested in jazz. He was invited by Art Blakey to join the Jazz Messengers in New York. From there, he became part of two of jazz’s most celebrated trios: the Tommy Flanagan Trio, and for the past 16 years, the Bill Charlap Trio. Mr. Washington’s work roster includes Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Bobby Hutcherson and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. In 2009 he was part of The Blue Note 7, a septet formed in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The group recorded the album Mosaic and toured the US in 2009.
Photo: Richard Termine

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Lewis Nash, drums

Born in Phoenix, Lewis Nash began playing drums at age 10, and by 21 he was the city’s “first call” jazz drummer for visiting artists like Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Lee Konitz and Slide Hampton. He moved to New York City to join the trio of vocalist Betty Carter. He toured with her for four years, then spent ten years with the Tommy Flanagan Trio. He has amassed a discography of more than 400 recordings as a sideman with such jazz legends as Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Hank Jones, Benny Carter, McCoy Tyner, Clark Terry and Horace Silver. In 2009 he was named “jazz’s most valuable player” by Modern Drummer. His most recent disc as a leader is The Highest Mountain featuring Renee Rosnes, Peter Washington, Jimmy Greene and Jeremy Pelt. His website is lewisnash.com.

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Details & Ordering

  • The Man with the Horn: Music of Miles Davis

    Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 8 pm

    Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd St

    Venue: Kaufmann Concert Hall

    Price: from $60.00

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