a supporting musician in a jazz band or rock group.Posse, does that sound like the magnificent Miles Davis to you? I was all set for a cage match on that term (used in conjunction with an article on his collaborations with Shirley Horn) – then I remembered that, first and foremost, Miles was a musician. As with other greats, like Bill ‘Field Fiend’ Evans and my beloved Ahmad Jamal, the music ALWAYS comes first. ’twas Miles who studied concepts of spacing and dynamics from the vaunted Maestro Ahmad Jamal.. and during his storied career never, ever stopped learning, which made him the musical genius he’s known for to this day. He brought Maestro Evans into his group because of his genius and in doing so, helped Bill Evans further develop that genius. Maurice White/David Foster/Earth Wind& Fire (one of the weirdest collaborations, ever – but sheer perfection, for all that!). Genius working with Genius. This is logrolling at its absolute best!!!
So it makes perfect sense that Davis might not give a damb about labels. Sideman? Pffft. And why not? Miles (one of the only maestros I would ever call by first name – after all, there is Only One Miles) supported the magnificent Shirley Horn, playing trumpet on several of her albums – and his support went beyond that of ‘sideman’, helping her to hone and refine her craft.
This thought came about when I was cataloguing several Malle perfumes – everybody in Perfumistaland knows of my love for Carnal Flower, Fleur de Cassie … and now I think I might be getting it bad for Synthetic Jungle. As far as I know, M. Malle is the first to have both his own name and the name of the perfumer(s) on his label. Malle is the creative director, with the initial vision… but that vision cannot come to fruition without the collaboration and talent of his chosen perfumer. That he puts their name above the title, as it were, is serious respect, indeed.
So which of them in the sideman? And does it matter? In the shimmering, haunting tune ‘You Won’t Forget Me’ Shirley Horn sings with only her (very faint) piano, a touch of percussion … and Miles. It’s completely seamless, completely perfect. And neither Miles nor Ms Horn could’ve done without the other. It’s on Shirley Horn’s album, so I guess that gives her top billing but, honestly, I think this one belongs to them both. And does it matter in Malle perfumery? Again, nah. He’s the genius behind the geniuses who bring his visions to fruition. I appreciate his vision and his own appreciation and respect for the perfumers and that’s good enough for me.
What’s your thought on all this ? Do titles/labels matter to these geniuses? Do they matter to you? I was surprised at my visceral response to Miles being labeled ‘sideman’ …. but maybe that’s just because it’s Miles. Like labeling Godzilla ‘lizard’. It’s… it’s MILES. But it’s interesting, that audacity to attempt interpretation of another’s thoughts – not their actions; their THOUGHTS! As if. But (and here we go off the Musings rails, again) this from Tara Westover (in re “Educated” – her autobiography)
|“A curious thing happens when you offer up your life for public consumption,” Westover writes in a guest essay (courtesy of The New York Times) today. “People start to interpret your biography, to explain to you what they think it means.”
So. Maybe it’s okay for me to interpret Miles as Godzilla. Maybe he did the same. And what does it matter, anyway. He’s still genius. And so is Malle. And I thank Floyd every day for them.