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Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 7. 1961.

Jazz Comments

Jazz Comments

Miles Davis is a giant of music. His playing is Intensely personal, a crying out and a comment on life, his emotion and thought bursting upon you like thunder, yet having the vivid clarity of a bleak cloud etched against the setting sun. His music is the tortured evolvement of a sensitive Individual suppressed and scorned by a world hungry for a popular style, a mass-produced article with mere pretence at Individuality. It is bitter and Ironic. It is sad and lonely. It is also full of a deep powerful joy for life; it has serenity, compassion, and the inevitableness of a river moving towards the sea. His is the voice or a wise old man sitting in the sun. It is the voice of an Alpine horn singing to the loneliness of sleeping white giants. It is the sound of jazz.

Two of his records are being released by Philips.

Jazz Track: Miles trumpet; Barney Wllen tenor; Rene Urtreger piano; Pierre Michelot bass; un-known drummer. The other side has Miles trumpet; "Cannonball" Adderly alto; John Coltrane tenor; Bill Evans piano; Paul Chambers bass; "Philly Joe" Jones drums.

This has the sound track of the film "Ascenseur pour I'echafaud" Elevator to the Scaffold) on one side, the other having three standards played by his regular group.

The movie is a somewhat melodramatic murder story. It describes how the lover of another man's wife kills him, but is caught in an elevator and thus cannot fabricate an alibi to cover his "perfect" murder. Miles' treatment is dramatic and evocative, a spontaneous creation of haunting beauty. The Frenchmen backing have a subsidiary role, but it is perfection Itself. They merge themselves with Miles's personality withous losing any of their own.

Miles opens with his wonderful old horn sound, calling out to listen to his story'. with tinges of sadness, as it is a tale of woe. The murder is performed in an atmosphere of waiting and horror ... the shimmering unreality of a bad dream. On the highway with the fast flowing movement of passing cars and fleeting fields, the snatched phrase and spurt of speed, blindly rushing. Now trapped, static, the grotesque lonely thoughts of a killer. The tension is plucked away relaxed "and softened. There is a hint of strain, gradually built on. A surge of rhythm, the bubbling phrases and pulsing bass sweep on in frantic haste. The scene shifts, the bass sings alone, rocking with pompous majesty. The relaxed atmosphere of a bar, conversation, the smell of beer and humanity. And now the final comment, the sorrowful poignant crying of a woman softly rocking and singing to herself for comfort. The bitter remembrance ... the empty future.

—r.t.m.