September 19, 2010


With the 40th anniversary editions of Bitches Brew by Miles Davis released last week, it's been non-stop Miles and Jazz here at the Spy Vibe lair. Miles has lead me on a fantastic journey from the cool of his mid-to-late 1950s era to his Hendrix-inspired fusion of the late 1960s and early 1970s. His music was ahead of its time, but it also now defines each period like a cultural Rosetta Stone. Twelve years before Brew, Miles worked on one of my all-time fave projects- the improvised score to Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'echafaud/Frantic/1957-58). This French new wave film noir, starring Jeanne Moreau, is distributed in the US by the Criterion Collection. Various CD and 180 gram vinyl editions of the soundtrack are available. Check out the trailer- you will be haunted by the imagery and music! There is also a short, behind-the-scenes documentary about the score here.

My time with Miles Davis over the last few weeks has lead to other artists that Spy Vibers may enjoy: Paul Chambers, Dexter Gordon, and Kenny Burrell. The experience also re-awakened a love for Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and other early "hot" Jazz players. I've played blues guitar for years, but old dogs can learn new tricks. I'm happy to report that I've followed through on an old dream and bought a clarinet over the weekend. So far I can play the melody to Gershwin's Summertime, and I look forward to seeing where this journey goes next. In the meantime, check in below with Miles Davis and a chilling story from Louis Malle.

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