The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Intervista #2:
Christmas Week Edition


When he wasn't marinating journalists in his contempt for the whole interview process, Miles Davis had an undeniable gift for being cryptic. It wasn't just the sound emitted from that self-sabotaged voice box of his (though that certainly didn't make the enterprise easier), it was his overarching determination to protect the essence of his art from revelation, even when purporting to explain it. In a sense, Davis couldn't be completely open about his work even if he wanted to be; perhaps because it relied on so many inarticulable components (the thousand alchemies in his interaction with other musicians, whether in a recording studio or on the bandstand, for example). At a certain point technique surrenders itself to a realm governed by forces beyond anyone's control; and only very few artists worth paying attention to will ever pretend to know where that point is, or where the work goes thereafter.

So even when speaking with relative candor, as he does in this recording from May of 1986, a Miles Davis interview was bound to have its impenetrable dimension. Fortunately (for us) Miles' interviewer on this occasion was not some stringer writing for a Jazz sheet or your average disc jockey . . . the kind of journalistic tragedy whom, it can be argued, fairly begged for his disdain . . . but historian and (perhaps crucially) musician Ben Sidran, for his NPR program Sidran On Record. Sidran knew enough about his subject . . . an often prickly individual even under the best of circumstances . . . to keep him talking by not trying to steer the conversation too directly. At its best (which is much of the recording), this may be the most interesting talk with Miles Davis ever committed to tape; at its worst it's not unlike the fawning S&M interviews critics in the late 60s used to conduct with washed-up movie directors (albeit without the sadism, latent or otherwise).

As an accompanying treat . . . something of an après dinner mint . . . is a 12 minute excerpt from another Sidran On Record interview (also from '86), this time with composer, arranger, wizard, saint and frequent Miles Davis co-conspirator, Gil Evans.

From now until December 31st, we here at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger . . . will be bringing our visitors small offerings of this character; some musical, some not, but all music-related.

Thus do we (hopefully along with you) celebrate this holiday season.

6 comments :

Mike D said...

very cool - i cant wait t hear this. thanks and happy holidays to all who help on my favourite site on the web.

Mike D said...

hey there - where is the sidran intrvw gone? am i blind?

Tom Sutpen said...

Mike:

Both files are still uploaded and downloadable. Are you having trouble downloading them?

Tom Sutpen said...

Oh . . . and thanks for the Holiday greetings!

Mike D said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike D said...

got it - thanks yourself!