Category: Davis, Miles

Miles Davis: a classic interview from the vaults

milesDavisA classic 1985 interview with Miles from Rocks Backpages, reprinted here in The Guardian. A really long piece, and Davis is typically funny and outspoken and brilliant and a jerk and all the things you’d expect:

When I was 17,18, my allowance was like $40 a week. My wife would cook something, a little cornbread, and I’d say to Bird, Come on downstairs and eat. And he would eat all of the cornbread! He would sit down and leave a little piece like that and then leave! Did that a couple of times and I said, Fuck Bird! After a couple of times I didn’t leave him anything to gobble up.

“Like when Bird died. They asked me to say something about Bird. I said, Man, if I said something about Bird, you wouldn’t believe it. Don’t ask me that! He was a big hog. A pig. No such thing as no with him. And Trane. And Sonny. Only three people I knew like that. And Dizzy, when he was young. I suppose geniuses are like that.

“Trane would find a note he liked and run all kinds of chords on it. But he was a big hog. I seen him with a whole ounce of dope once, the dope was spilling over and he wouldn’t give it to nobody. So much that it was running all over everything! Guys would ask him for some, he’d say no.”

Click here to read Miles Davis: a classic interview from the vaults

Miles Davis with Bill Boggs 1986

Classic Miles Davis on the Philadelphia talk show Timeout in 1986. Miles didn’t sit for too many of these long form interviews, but this is 45 minutes of Miles at his best. He initially doesn’t seem to have much time for Boggs, especially when Bill tries to give him a hug when Davis first comes out on stage, but he warms up a bit and gets into the interview later on. Here is Boggs on how the interview came to be:

BB: I have been told by people over the years that this was an historic interview. ‘Do you ever remember Miles Davis being on a talk show?’ Apparently not too many people do cause they keep telling me this is unique. How’d it happen?…I ran into Miles when I was in a restaurant in Los Angeles. Actually, he came to my table and said hello. ‘That Midday was like my Today show,’ he told me in that raspy voice. It turned out he’d been watching me for years and said, ‘I always wanted you to interview me.’ So the way this whole thing happened was he asked me what I was doing and I told him I had a show in Philadelphia called ‘Timeout’ and he basically said let’s arrange to do it. And about a month or so later, there he was. I was not pleased that the producers of the show chose to add other guests. It should have been just Miles and me for the entire hour. But they were afraid he wouldn’t carry the ratings-small thinking, in my opinion, since his appearance on the show made headlines and was discussed before and after on local radio. Anyway, the charming Maurice Hines, an old friend joins in as do some young trumpet players-which sort of worked..See for yourself..Miles Davis circa 1986 in Philadelphia.

— Peter Blasevick

Miles: A Frank Appraisal

Last week Downbeat posted a classic Miles Davis interview with Nat Hentoff from 1955 called “Miles: A Trumpeter In The Midst Of A Big Comeback Makes A Very Frank Appraisal Of Today’s Jazz Scene.” Miles discusses West Coast Jazz, Charlie Parker, and a host of other topics with his usual candor. On Dave Brubeck:

“Well, Dave made one record I liked—‘Don’t Worry ’bout Me.’ Do I think he swings? He doesn’t know how. Desmond doesn’t swing, either, though I think he’d play different with another rhythm section.”

Miles never disappoints.

Click here to read Miles: A Frank Appraisal

Miles Davis 1969

For Miles Davis’ birthday week: another great interview with Les Tomkins from the Jazz Professional website. Miles is of course his usual controversial self.

Click here to read Miles Davis 1969

An Afternoon with Miles Davis

This fascinating 1958 interview with Miles was conducted by Nat Hentoff in Miles’ Manhattan apartment and appeared in just the second issue of Hentoff’s short lived (1958—1961) Jazz Review magazine. Miles listens to some tracks, comments about his contemporaries, and, most famously, makes some disparaging remarks about Oscar Peterson’s playing.

The digitized version of this interview (and the entire magazine issue in fact, which contains some other GREAT stuff) is compliments of the site The .pdf loads fairly slowly, so be patient; it’s worth it!!

Below are links to both the .pdf directly, and the jazzstudiesonline webpage that contains the surrogate record for the magazine issue with a link to the pdf.

Click here to read An Afternoon with Miles Davis (.pdf…loads slowly from site)

Click here to read An Afternoon with Miles Davis (jazzstudiesonline webpage with link)

Miles Davis: a candid conversation with the jazz world’s premier iconoclast

The September 1962 Playboy interview with Miles Davis conducted by author Alex Haley.  Davis talks about his childhood, his reputation as a somewhat less than nice guy, and, of course, race.

Read the interview on either of the two below links:

Miles Davis: a candid conversation with the jazz world’s premier iconoclast 1

Miles Davis: a candid conversation with the jazz world’s premier iconoclast 2