Miles Davis' Racket?

Where can I find appreciated negative criticism of whatever Miles Davis and his modern jazz or whatever it is called ilk produce? Does such a thing exist? Has anyone of substance ever criticized the modern discordant jazz scene? Just observed a portion of Newport Jazz Fest 2005. Thanks for any info.

I’m not sure what you are asking, but you didn’t see Miles at Newport in 2005.

I’m guessing that you’d hate Gutbucket then. Pity; they’re outstanding.

Davis is strongly associated with jazz fusion–he was essentially the father of it–but I suspect that your criticism is probably more directed at avant-garde and free jazz, typically personified by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, late period John Coltrane. (The above mentioned Gutbucket more or less fits into that category, too, though I like to think that they have a couple of toes into a punk rock sensibility as well.)

As with anything, a lot of it is crap, of course, and you wouldn’t catch Louis Armstrong playing that way, but some of it is truely inspired, IMHO. And it makes great background for distracting your chess opponent. “Mind if I put on some music?”


The most hostile, shark-up-the-butt negative criticism I can recall hearing of free jazz came from both Marsalis brothers in the Ken Burns’ “Jazz” documentary. I don’t know what Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman did to the Marsalis brothers to make them so hostile and hateful about free jazz but the venom is pretty amazing.

“The Wire”, a great British experimental music magazine used to be heavily slanted towards jazz. They still do jazz reviews and features, and any decent, well-thought criticism of current free jazz, negative and positive, can still be found in there.

There are also jazz-specific magazines out there but I’ve never read any so I can’t offer any advice on those. Still, any criticism besides “self-indulgent bulls**t” is good criticism. Because if that’s all free jazz was, it wouldn’t continue to endure as there would be no audience helping to support it.

The closest Miles ever got to that free jazz stuff was “On The Corner” which wasn’t even half as bad as that junk Coleman, Cherry & Coltrabe et al. were putting out. And even with “On The Corner” “Black Satin” was a masterpiece. If you’re looking to blame anyone for making a racket, Miles ain’t your man, and he sure as hell wasn’t at Newport 2005!


Is Coltrane associated with free jazz? I don’t think I’ve ever heard his music described that way, or at least I’ve never heard any of the albums of his I have described that way.

Anyway, jazz and pop parted ways in the 1940s. Pop music became repackaged ‘race’ music and jazz became progressively more experimental. The next time pop and jazz mixed was called psychedelic, then progressive. Those styles didn’t owe that much to what jazz had become at those points anyway. My point is that jazz is very different from what most people hear on a daily basis, and you have to get past the initial shock to determine if you actually like it or not.

It depends on what you’re talking about. Most of these musicians tended to do a lot of different things. All of Coltrane’s work after A Love Supreme tended towards free - listen to Ascension, and you’ll see how radically different it is from, say, Giant Steps or Blue Train.

Then he died. He was definitely quite out there towards the end of his life, but other names are way more associated with free jazz because his free period was fairly short.

I’d suggest to the OP that he might want to define his terms more carefully - if he’s trying to dismiss an entire genre of music, it helps to find examples of it. Most of Miles Davis’ stuff is not particularly out there at all. On the other hand, I don’t like Cecil Taylor or Anthony Braxton at all.

Excalibre: I suppose that explains it. The most recent Coltrane album I have is A Love Supreme, which I really enjoy despite my godless atheistic ways. :wink: I might have to find Ascension and see if I like Coltrane doing free jazz.

Most people aren’t as familiar with his later work. The big famous albums - Giant Steps, Blue Train, My Favorite Things, A Love Supreme, and so on - are all before he got all weird and freaky. No surprise that the free stuff doesn’t have the same appeal for a lot of people.

A Love Supreme is incidentally one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded.