Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Miles Davis

How to listen. Can you get the Joke

One guy in the back of the club isn’t laughing.

And the fabled comedian is killing it at a club that seats 400.

Miles Davis was shunned by a few people in the audience, even at his coolest.

And the message from the creator of the work is clear: “It’s not for you.”

The theater critic at the Times might not like this play, the one that made people cry and sold tickets for years.

And just about every blog post and book listing collects a trolling comment from someone who didn’t like it, didn’t read it or didn’t agree with it (or all three) and isn’t shy about speaking up with a sharp tongue.

Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible.

We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.

For everyone else, though, the ability to say, “It’s not for you,” is the foundation for creating something brave and important.

You can’t do your best work if you’re always trying to touch the untouchable, or entertain those that refuse to be entertained.

“It’s not for you.”

This is easy to say and incredibly difficult to do. You don’t have much choice, not if you want your work to matter.

How to listen

Live interaction still matters. Teachers, meetings, presentations, one on one brainstorms–they can lead to real change.

The listener has nearly as big a responsibility as the speaker does.

And yet, Google reports 4 times as many matches for “how to speak” as “how to listen.”

It’s not a passive act, not if you want to do it right.

If listening better leads to better speaking, then it becomes a competitive advantage.

Ask an entrepreneur leaving the office of a great VC like Fred Wilson. She’ll tell you that she gave the best pitch of her career–largely because of the audience.

The hardest step in better listening is the first one: do it on purpose.

Make the effort to actually be good at listening (it’s a matter of learning and it is hard to focus if the talker is Not telling you an interesting story).

Don’t worry so much about taking notes. Notes can be summarized in a memo (or a book) later.

Pay back the person who’s speaking with enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm shown by the expression on your face, in your posture, in your questions.

Play back what you hear but in your own words, using your own situation.

Don’t ask questions as much as make statements, building on what you just heard but making it your own.

Take what you heard and make it the foundation for what you are trying on as your next idea.

If you disagree, wait a few beats, let the thought finish, and then explain why.

Don’t challenge the speaker, challenge the idea.

The best way to honor someone who has said something smart and useful is to say something back that is smart and useful.

The other way to honor them is to go do something with what you learned.

Good listeners get what they deserve–better speakers.

(Sort of improving the speaker’s skills?)

A diet for your mind

It’s Groundhog Day: January is over, and diet book a la mode again.

It’s time to invest in something you can change: the way you think.

Here are a bunch of books, ebooks and recordings that can help with that: Diet books for the mind.

Controlling what you eat is an interesting challenge, but not nearly as important as controlling how you think.

Lost Betty Davis 1969 Sessions With Miles Davis Released (July 2, 2016)

The Columbia Sessions 1968-1969 also features Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell, and more

Betty Davisfunk albums from 1973-1975 were reissued in recent years by Light in the Attic.

But before those records were made, Betty and her then-husband Miles Davis recorded sessions at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios on May 14 and 20, 1969.

Miles and Teo Macero produced the sessions, which featured Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Mitch Mitchell (the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer), and others. They covered Cream and Creedence Clearwater and recorded originals by Betty, but the songs were never released. Those sessions have now been unearthed and remastered, and are released today as The Columbia Years 1968-1969, via Light in the Attic.

The Columbia Years also features recordings from a 1968 Los Angeles Columbia session featuring Hugh Masekela and members of the Crusaders. All but one of the songs on the collection are previously unreleased. Since the 1969 sessions predate Bitches Brew, the album’s bio notes that these sessions are integral to Miles’ discography (“the true birth of Miles’ jazz-rock explorations”).

Andrew Bossone shared a link.

The album was made with Betty’s cooperation; the liner notes feature a new interview with her. It also comes with rare photos, a poster, and some vinyl copies will be pressed on “solid gold” wax. Watch a trailer for the album below.

As previously reported, Betty Davis is the subject of a new film called Nasty Gal: The Many Lives of Funk Queen Betty Davis. The movie is due early next year.

The Columbia Years 1968-1969:

01 Hangin’ Out
02 Politician Man
03 Down Home Girl (Take 4)
04 Born on the Bayou
05 I’m Ready, Willing & Able (Take 1)
06 I’m Ready, Willing & Able (Take 9)
07 It’s My Life (Take 8)
08 Live, Love, Learn (Take 12)
09 My Soul Is Tired (Take 9)

Kind of Blue: Remembrance of Miles Davis’s Masterpiece

Every music fan touches Kind of Blue.

It is the best-selling jazz album of all time.

Kind of Blue was recorded over two days, the first of which, March 2, 1959, was 56 years ago today. Miles Davis convened his sextet—Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly—at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio in New York City.

John Hendrickson posted this March 2, 2015

A look back at the afternoon that Miles Davis started recording Kind of Blue, one of the biggest albums of the 20th century

The first cut, “So What,” would go on to become one of the most familiar pieces of music in all of jazz. In a BBC documentary about jazz in the year 1959 (below), author Ashley Kahn likens Davis’s opening solo to a whispered confession.

More than anything, Kind of Blue remains a gateway to potential jazz listeners of all ages. Some finish side two and immediately dig deeper into the rest of Davis’s catalogue.

Some hear it and start exploring the various players on the record, like Bill Evans or John Coltrane (who may lead you to Thelonious Monk).

Miles Davis at 30th Street Studios in New York City.

Before you know it, you’re crate-digging for names like Coleman Hawkins, Wes Montgomery, Ornette Coleman, then going back toward Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong.

It just goes and goes and you’re never quite satiated, not since Kind of Blue whet your appetite.

But even if none of that happens, even if Kind of Blue is the only jazz record you ever hear or care to hear, you will have at least touched it, and you’re better off for it in the end.




May 2023

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