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  1. #1
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    NYT: Miles in R&R Hall of Fame

    By Ben Ratliff

    Miles Davis is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight. Not as an "early influence," as Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton were; that category is for artists whose careers were established long before rock 'n' roll began. (The hall has not inducted anyone in that category since 2001.) Davis is being recognized as a rock star.

    This seems provocative for a second, and then a little meaningless. It is not some sort of timely argument for underappreciated work; adventurous musicians like those in the Black Rock Coalition have been claiming Davis's electric period as an inspiration for decades. There are some jazz adherents who never liked Davis's long electric phase and will be mildly outraged. But after all the jagged turns of his career, and its thorough box-set gilding, most of us have long since let Davis's body of work just assume its own meaning.

    Davis's so-called rock could be strange and brilliant (especially from 1969 to 1975). His jazz was less opaque, and his love for it as a language and a tradition much clearer. Jazz had been his training, the basis of his best recorded work, which would include "Walkin'," "Birth of the Cool," "Milestones," "Miles Ahead" and "Live at the Plugged Nickel," among other albums. But by the mid-1960's he sensed correctly that jazz's greatest age was closing. He listened to everything, from Karlheinz Stockhausen who has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but certainly could be in the future to the trumpeter and record executive Herb Alpert, who is being inducted this year in the lifetime-achievement category.

    Davis couldn't stand being permanently linked with jazz if it meant his becoming second-class. He wanted the music industry to take him even more seriously than before; he came into contact with rock 'n' roll simply by being himself and resisting decline. A series of women in his life during the late 1960's, particularly Betty Mabry, brought him closer to the center of rock culture, the musicians and the nightlife and the clothes; he was also working with Clive Davis at Columbia Records, who ambitiously drove his label during those years to be a rock 'n' roll contender.

    As pop record-making changed, as the album-qua-album became as important as the hit single, with a wider canvas for fuller expression, Davis found himself suited to that challenge, too, during a remarkable partnership with his producer Teo Macero.

    By 1970 Davis had veered hard toward funk and rock: first Jimi Hendrix, whose Band of Gypsies riffs he quoted and altered for his own purposes, and then Sly Stone and James Brown. You could call his albums "*****es Brew" and "Live-Evil" rock by extension especially in this context, because Mr. Brown, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Sly and the Family Stone have already been inducted into the hall. And the album "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" from 1970 even more so. You could also call them quite amazing records, whatever they are.

    Davis, who died in 1991, was finally unsentimental about jazz, yet he respected many of its forms. With rock he could be more instinctive, brusque, shocking, mystifying, wasteful. With "In a Silent Way," from 1969, he did want his music to sound "like rock." He said as much in his 1989 memoir, though at the time he was fantastically dismissive about the issue. ("What's a rock 'n' roll band?" he sneered at a journalist in 1970. "The only rock I know is the rock of cocaine.")

    But if he wanted more of his music to sound like rock, he meant its sound: the volume, the riff, the electric guitar and bass, the back beat. Everything else was changeable. There were dense slabs of hammering rhythm, static harmony, great moving plates of collective improvisation, which he ordered around as he conducted onstage. In the studio, he jammed endlessly with a revolving cast of musicians and then, with Mr. Macero, cut and spliced and layered the tapes. He could treat rock and funk like abstractions. Perhaps that's why his electric period which, let's be clear, lasted half of his career had such vertiginous high points ("Live-Evil," "Get Up With It") as well as such drowsy lows (a lot of his music after 1980).

    The program essay for tonight's induction ceremony does not acknowledge the oddness of Davis's induction; it simply describes his accomplishments. But the view of Davis as rock star is not unanimous. Ahmet Ertegun, chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said in a telephone interview on Friday that as a member of the nominating committee he did not vote for Davis, because he felt that his most significant work had nothing to do with rock.

    Mr. Ertegun, a cofounder of Atlantic Records with a lot of jazz in his past, said he did vote early and strongly to put Davis in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, where he thinks he belongs.

    "I love Miles Davis," he said, referring to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. "I also love John Coltrane and Jack Teagarden, but I'm not voting for them either."

  2. #2
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Who frikkin cares about the R-n-R Hall of Fame? Why should that impact you if your choice of music isn't impacted!!!




    Oh wait...I had me confused with MindGoneHaywire or Troy or...

    someone else



    Personally, I think a lot of the inductions over the past few years have been dubious at best. As long as they make obscure inductions (I think just to appear ubber hip) and ignore whole genres of music, then the RRHOF is nothing more than a yearly vareity-review show and country club. Europe should tell Cleveland HOF to sod off and open their own RRHOF.

    BTW: I think Davis' contribution to R-n-R is as relevant in rock history as Queen's Bohemian Rapsody was to Opera, or Roger Water's latest work is to symphony. He'll always be known as a Jazz legend, whether he would like it or not.

  3. #3
    Dubgazer -Jar-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3-LockBox
    BTW: I think Davis' contribution to R-n-R is as relevant in rock history as Queen's Bohemian Rapsody was to Opera, or Roger Water's latest work is to symphony. He'll always be known as a Jazz legend, whether he would like it or not.
    I guess it depends on what kind of R-n-R you listen to. As it relates to much of the rock music I listen to, Miles Davis is extremely relevant. He's a major influence on many of the bands I enjoy today, and I can only see his influence grow as more and more people discover what amazing work he did in his "rock" phase in the late 60's/early 70's. And even with his Jazz, just the way that he approached his music is an inspiration to anyone who plays an instrument, no matter the genre. I guess by that extension, Coltrane or Monk could be in there too, but they probably won't be since they didn't explore "rock" in the way that Miles did.

    I don't care much about the RnR Hall of Fame, but Miles deserves to be in there as much as a lot of other people already in there.

    -jar
    If being afraid is a crime we'll hang side-by-side,
    at the swingin' party down the line..


    The Replacements

  4. #4
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradH
    But by the mid-1960's he (Davis) sensed correctly that jazz's greatest age was closing.


    Ahmet Ertegun, chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said in a telephone interview on Friday that as a member of the nominating committee he did not vote for Davis, because he felt that his most significant work had nothing to do with rock.
    I agree whole heartedly with both of those statements.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3-LockBox
    BTW: I think Davis' contribution to R-n-R is as relevant in rock history as Queen's Bohemian Rapsody was to Opera, or Roger Water's latest work is to symphony. He'll always be known as a Jazz legend, whether he would like it or not.
    Davis' contribution is completely relevant to fusion but I'm not sure what that has to do with the HOF. I'm not sure what the HOF is for anyway. Miles had more influence on rock than Blondie and they got in.

  6. #6
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradH
    Davis' contribution is completely relevant to fusion but I'm not sure what that has to do with the HOF. I'm not sure what the HOF is for anyway. Miles had more influence on rock than Blondie and they got in.
    This is where it usually get muddy for me, whether or not they're recognizing influence or contribution.

    I guess as far as HOF goes, my point is this...who doesn't qualify at this juncture. Based on who they're inducting and the flimsy reasoning behind their choices, how could they justify leaving anyone out.

    Hell, where's Charles Manson's nomination?

  7. #7
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3-LockBox
    Hell, where's Charles Manson's nomination?
    Good point. He and Stephen Stills and everybody's dog's brother auditioned for the Monkees. Isn't that good enough?

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