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On September 28th, in 1991, The East Saint Boogie Trumpeter, composer, pianist, flugelhorn player, band member, pianist, bandleader, producer, inventor of ‘The Cool’, the Be-Bop, Hard-Bop, Post-Bop, Fusion Jazz innovator, Sugar Ray Robinson idolizer, the former pimp and husband of Cicely Tyson that has more than 50 LPs, 8 Grammys, 10 movie scores and appearances, and several Downbeat & Rolling Stones Magazine awards over a 4 decade career-Miles Dewey Davis the 3rd returned home in Santa Monica, California.
Miles' music speaks for itself. He came up in East Saint Louis, Illinois, right across the Mississippi. He went to New York to study music and fell into the Be-Bop scene, schooled heavily by inspirations and bandmates-Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker. Miles later brought spacing to Jazz music, silence if you will (inspired by Ahmad Jamal). This is ironic because at first, he was stuck on Be-Bop, which in and of itself requires the soloist to play as many notes as possible without pausing.
Miles’ Sketches of Spain, In a Silent Way & Kind of Blue LPs really highlight his use of pauses. Miles used to ‘bang horse’-was severely addicted but kicked by quitting cold turkey…he pimped for a stint, travelled the world and collaborated with several Jazz notables like: John Coltrane, Eddie Henderson, Carlos Garnett, Billy Cobham, James Mtume, Bennie Maupin, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Paul Chambers, Chick Corea,
Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Philly Joe Jones, Gil Evans, Bill Evans and Red Garland to name a few. He influenced the sound of Jazz for over 40 years, making silence a major component of a soloist’s repertoire. Miles is one of the most influential musicians to live, and pass on. He affected all genres and walks of life. It was deemed ‘cool’ if you were up on Miles’s music, had an LP or 2 of his, or just could vibe off his strut. He was 65 years-old when he died.
On September 28th, in 1980, The Police hit number one on the UK singles chart for the song: Don’t Stand so Close to Me. By this time, The Police were well immersed in the game, this being their 3rd official number one. They had both sides of the pond digging their music which resembled Reggae basslines, drum patterns and rhythms, with a rock tinge to it, but a darker Rock sound. There’s also elements of Jazz thrown in here and there. From 1978 to 1983, they recorded 5 LPs, all of em are good.
However, Don’t Stand so Close to Me was on the 1980 Zenyatta Mondatta LP, which is probably one of their best albums. In fact, the single alone was the best selling track in 1980. Other cuts off this LP that are notable: the seminal breakbeat-Voices Inside My Head (sampled by many, freestyled to by all), When the World is Running You Down-You Make the Best of What’s Still Around, Do Do Do-De Da Da Da and Behind My Camel…if you have the LP, just play it, it’s that good. The Police are one of the best New Wave bands to come out of the UK, with an American Drummer (Stewart Copeland). S.O. to them for keeping it dope!
…‘When by the phone, in vain you sit, you very soon, in your mind realize that it’s, not just an ordinary pain, in your heart’…On September 28th, in 1976, Stevie Wonder, the multi-instrumentalist, signer, producer, songwriter, activist, actor and spokesperson released his 18th LP: Songs in the Key of Life. It was a double LP with a 7” EP and song-booklet (21 tracks in total). It was groundbreaking, not just in packaging (gatefold), product (the tight tracks), and visuals (the song booklet), it also was the third LP to ever debut as Number 1 on the Billboard LP Chart.
Stevie was the only American artist out of the three LPs to achieve this feat. One of my favorite tracks on the LP is Ordinary Pain-it changes tempo and groove at the end, which includes a rebuttal of sorts to Stevie’s singing about his ‘un’-ordinary pain. Other notables for me are the Deep House Classic-Another Star, the laid back jazzy Summer Soft, Joy Inside My Tears, and the funky Have a Talk With God, Black Man & Contusion…Classic LP!
On September 28th, in 1953, singer, songwriter, bassist, pianist, guitarist, and original 5 Stairsteps member-Keni Burke (Kenneth M. Burke) was born in Chi-Town, Chicago, Illinois. He got his start with the 'First Family of Soul'-later The Five Stairsteps (it was a family band like the Jackson who were inspired by them) on the Windy City imprint. Their hit was O-o-h Child. However, when Burke got his start via close association to Curtis Mayfield (Buddha records owned the Curtom imprint that belong to Curtis), the Stairsteps got more funky and psychedelic, putting out songs like We Must Be in Love with Cubie. They also had the pleasure of working with Donny Hathaway & LeRoy Hutson who were both Curtom regulars.
Their early singles and LPs on Curtom and Buddha are very heavy with breaks and samples. Basically, anything from 1967 to 1976 by the Stairsteps is certified nice. The group disbanded in the late 70s and Burke went solo. However, he continued to write, produce, sing backup and record as a session musician for acts like: The Undisputed Truth, Linda Clifford, Bill Withers, The Invisible Man’s Band, Spyder Turner, Les McCann, & D.J. Rodgers. He dropped his solo LP: Changes in 1982. It has the classic break, and all-around dope song on it: Keep Rising to the Top. LL Cool J & Marley Marl are most noted for sampling this track on Around the Way Girl. Burke is 65 today!
Honorable Mention: On September 28th, in 1796, David Walker was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Walker’s father was a slave, but his mother was ‘free’, so he was subsequently born ‘free’. He never liked slavery, or seeing his father endure it. He moved to Boston and began writing, becoming a voice for Black Unity & abolition of slavery. He was very animate about it. So much so that in 1829 he published the infamous pamphlet: An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. It promoted Pan-Africanism, unity and self-reliance to fight oppression, racism and slavery. He passed away a year later (1930) from poisoning or tuberculosis-sources vary. He was 33.
…‘get ya motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, in whatever comes our way’…On September 28th, in 1943, Steppenwolf bassist and singer-Nick St. Nicholas (Klaus Kassbaum) was born in Pion, Germany. He migrated to Canada and started playing with the Mynah Birds, then he went to The Sparrows, and then he played with T.I.M.E., all of which were Rock Blues based or Psychedelic Rock based bands. He got with Steppenwolf after he left T.I.M.E.. The Canadian-American Rock band had several hits. Most notably the cut featured on Easy Rider: Born to be Wild (some consider it to be the first Heavy Metal cut). He’s 75 today!
On September 28th in 2002, two interesting things occurred in no particular order. First, Madonna was voted as the greatest female singer of all-time by a VH1 poll of over 750,000 fans. They were angered by the fact that Kylie Minogue beat out Diana Ross (12th) for 2nd place. Obviously, VH1 voters were a bit confused, or under exposed…Madonna vs Chaka Khan? Billie Holiday…shhhhiddddddd (Senator Clay-The Wire)...Mary J., even Annie Lennox (14th)! But the whole Kylie Minogue trumps Diana?!
Dead…Okay, second: on the same day in 2002, Tina Turner got a highway named after her. It’s a short stretch of Tennessee State Highway 19 right through her hometown of Nutbush, Tennessee, which is about 50 miles outside of Memphis. She lived there until Ike Turner linked with her, around the time she was 17. There's an LP by Ike & Tina Turner called Nut Bush City Limits, cop it.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on the Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A Plethora of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!