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  1. #1

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    I am reading a excellent book about Kind of Blue by Ashley Khan and there is a quote about when Sonny Stitt played live with Miles. Davis is quoted as saying " When Sonny was here he would play Dminor7 instead of D minor on So What, he would always f%%k up on that tune". I understand this is probably related to Sonny not approaching the tune in the modal way Miles wanted but can someone explain in more detail what Miles meant by this comment?

    I felt this was a theory question but if not please move

    Thanks!

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Babaluma
    I am reading a excellent book about Kind of Blue by Ashley Khan and there is a quote about when Sonny Stitt played live with Miles. Davis is quoted as saying " When Sonny was here he would play Dminor7 instead of D minor on So What, he would always f%%k up on that tune". I understand this is probably related to Sonny not approaching the tune in the modal way Miles wanted but can someone explain in more detail what Miles meant by this comment?

    I felt this was a theory question but if not please move

    Thanks!
    Now that IS interesting because I would have thought it was the other way around. That said Miles uses both C and C# over D minor in his solo.

  4. #3

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    Well you can hear him here, personally I quite enjoy Sonny’s solo. I assume Miles didn’t like his boppish approach, he sneaks a few ii-Vs into it, maybe some of the minor lines are not Dorian, so what!


  5. #4

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    I just listened to it (Miles and Sonny, live 1960, Paris).

    One can only guess...

    Harmonically, a tonal center is a "cloud of possibilities". Within the context of a song progression, the shape of that cloud varies.

    Miles is exploring a bit outside the cloud - he plays "C" but he's avoiding the Dm7 sound, sounding more angular, defining his harmony from the outside of the cloud pointing into the cloud rather than from the inside pointing out of the cloud, so to speak.

    Sonny is exploring the cloud harmonies pointing mostly from within the cloud to other parts of the cloud, or pointing sometimes outward, not so much pointing from outside into it... that's what I think Miles is hearing and expressing irritation or frustration about - he doesn't want Sonny to think, "So what can I do from within this cloud?", he wants him to think, "So what can I do from outside this cloud?"

  6. #5

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    Haha, well, Miles did actually say on many occasions that the whole Kind of Blue album was a failed experiment- he didn't feel they achieved what he wanted them to. Presumably he may have thought Cannonball's playing was also too boppish? Stitt on this cut probably sounds less boppish than Cannon's solo on the album. Stitt even throws in some Coltranish flourishes...

  7. #6

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    Look, listening to the Stitt solo, I got to say, did Kahn get his quote backwards?

    stitt plays a lot of classic bebop vocab here, moving 7th stuff, going in and out of the m triad and m6 sound using dim7 arps. He does use some modal ideas, But he’s (unsurprisingly) pretty bop, and bop likes the 6th.

    otoh Miles is playing a lot of blues oriented phrases with the b7

  8. #7

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    A bit of googling came up with this from Jimmy Heath’s autobiography, it might help:

    Miles Davis critique of Sonny Stitt question-ab4be8ef-1173-4046-a87d-c327723b93eb-jpg

  9. #8

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    Except, as Christian pointed out, the white keys also included C#, Ab and Bb... sorry to nitpick. But it would be really quite difficult to play over 24 bars of Dm11 without some variation.

    And, as you said, so what in any case :-)

  10. #9

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    I think the white keys thing is a bit of a red herring, pretty sure Miles and Trane played other passing notes too. Stitt certainly played lots of chromatic notes in that solo. What I think Jimmy Heath meant is that Stitt just thinks of it as a Dm chord and so plays boppy lines in Dm. But Miles wanted to explore all the various tonal structures available inside the Dm (or Dorian mode), as different sounds in their own right (what Jimmy Heath calls the other chords available over Dm). For example it often sounds to me as if Miles and Trane lean on the G triad a lot in their solos on So What, it creates that kind of ambivalent 4ths sound. I don’t think Stitt would do that.

    Anyway that’s my take on it, could be wrong!

  11. #10

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    Well, I admit to cheating a bit. There's this. I didn't check all the Ebm notes... but I might. And I only checked Miles' solo, not all the others. But, yes, I'm sure the others did a lot more. Stitt's not on this one, of course.

    The triads thing is prevalent - F and G which, as you say, gives the 4ths sound nicely.


  12. #11

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    I've just listened carefully to the Stitt solo again. Actually, I quite like it. I don't think it's contrary to the spirit of the tune at all. I'd say maybe a bit of sour grapes from Miles!

    But it's his tune (or Bill Evans) so...

  13. #12

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    In defense to both Miles and Sonny, if you want creative improvisations . . . you play what you hear. I don't see Miles' issue here but who knows ,really, what he was thinking in regards to his words? Perhaps this is more of an issue for musicologists/theorists rather than performing musicians. Love the recording. Good playing . . . Marinero

  14. #13

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    I don't get the impression that Miles Davis bought into everything said by Miles Davis.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    I just listened to it (Miles and Sonny, live 1960, Paris).

    One can only guess...

    Harmonically, a tonal center is a "cloud of possibilities". Within the context of a song progression, the shape of that cloud varies.

    Miles is exploring a bit outside the cloud - he plays "C" but he's avoiding the Dm7 sound, sounding more angular, defining his harmony from the outside of the cloud pointing into the cloud rather than from the inside pointing out of the cloud, so to speak.

    Sonny is exploring the cloud harmonies pointing mostly from within the cloud to other parts of the cloud, or pointing sometimes outward, not so much pointing from outside into it... that's what I think Miles is hearing and expressing irritation or frustration about - he doesn't want Sonny to think, "So what can I do from within this cloud?", he wants him to think, "So what can I do from outside this cloud?"
    This is a nice way of putting it, I enjoyed this explanation.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    A bit of googling came up with this from Jimmy Heath’s autobiography, it might help:

    Miles Davis critique of Sonny Stitt question-ab4be8ef-1173-4046-a87d-c327723b93eb-jpg
    Oh I will have to get that, sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for finding.

  17. #16

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    OK I'll buy that. One thing I notice is Stitt is finishing his phrases quite squarely on the chord.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Well you can hear him here, personally I quite enjoy Sonny’s solo. I assume Miles didn’t like his boppish approach, he sneaks a few ii-Vs into it, maybe some of the minor lines are not Dorian, so what!

    Wow this is pretty cooking! I like Stitt's solo but hearing both side by side I can maybe understand a bit more what Miles was talking about. Also as someone noted sounds similar approach to Cannonball. Adderley is definitely the bluesiest on the original studio version and Stitt sounds more like that vibe.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    OK I'll buy that. One thing I notice is Stitt is finishing his phrases quite squarely on the chord.
    Some more on this from Jimmy’s book (previous page):

    Miles Davis critique of Sonny Stitt question-441b0792-f6f1-4d95-b7f4-f0a5ddacd63c-jpg

  20. #19

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    Anybody else think Miles always played "So What" too fast live?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Anybody else think Miles always played "So What" too fast live?
    Absolutely, although there were indeed some smoking live versions, but yeah, always seems fast. But then you are always comparing it to possibly one of the most perfectly conceived recordings in all recorded history... and not just Jazz history!

  22. #21

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    Didn’t Miles’ groups do that with a lot of tunes? The studio version comes first, then all the later live versions get successively faster (well that’s how it always seemed to me).

  23. #22

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    Whatever Miles meant to say, Stitt solo sounds 20 years late in delivery.

  24. #23

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    stitt was bird influenced bopper...miles even tho he came up with bird (post diz) was never satisfied to just remain a bopper..he went cool..and he went post-bop... and he went electric..and he went pop...at end!! (marcus miller)

    stitt must have been like an artifact for him...not that stitt wasn't great in his own way..just different

    best example is kind of blue...as great as wynton kelly is...the bill evans tracks sound different!!!

    miles was always pushin...as much about his own personal cool persona as it was about music!

    his derision regarding stitt..with whatever he used to make an example of it ...is expected!!


    cheers

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Some more on this from Jimmy’s book (previous page):
    More! Next page! I want to know the answer to that last question!

    (Personally, with modes, I just stop. I mean, someone has to :-))


  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Anybody else think Miles always played "So What" too fast live?
    Some of them. There are several live versions on YouTube. They're not all fast. But maybe people do play faster at live gigs, it's the excitement

  27. #26

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    With many groups, there are some tunes that the audience always expects you to play, and after a while it can get stale. I know guys that take those tunes and speed them up to make them less boring, and get through them quicker. The strange musical choices of those guys that were actually really busy playing all the time. Miles probably hated So What after the 80th time he played it.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    More! Next page! I want to know the answer to that last question!

    (Personally, with modes, I just stop. I mean, someone has to :-))

    Hi ragman see my post no. 7, that was actually the next page.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Some of them. There are several live versions on YouTube. They're not all fast. But maybe people do play faster at live gigs, it's the excitement
    When I was in a rock band (in a previous existence) we used to play Message in a Bottle by the Police, which is sort of medium tempo. After about a year we made a studio demo recording of 4 tunes including that one. When we played it back we realised we were playing it about twice the original tempo, it sounded like a punk version! But none of us had noticed, it was just the way the tempo had crept up with each live performance, as you say. By then it seemed natural to play it that fast.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    When I was in a rock band (in a previous existence) we used to play Message in a Bottle by the Police,

    LOL yeah ... That song been there done that too .. but hey .. Police ended up playing it pretty fast as well at the end of their career



  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    Hi, V,
    Can you explain? Thanks and good playing . . . Marinero
    I guess others have already put it in more words.
    Personally, I do not analyse, I am "impressions based opinionist",
    To me, this one sounded like some generic be-bop, somewhat reminiscent of Savoy sessions.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    When I was in a rock band (in a previous existence) we used to play Message in a Bottle by the Police, which is sort of medium tempo. After about a year we made a studio demo recording of 4 tunes including that one. When we played it back we realised we were playing it about twice the original tempo, it sounded like a punk version! But none of us had noticed, it was just the way the tempo had crept up with each live performance, as you say. By then it seemed natural to play it that fast.
    Hi, Graham,
    As a saxophonist for many years of my musical life, I joined a 10 piece Jazz/Rock big band ala Tower of Power. I brought with me a great vocalist/bassist from a previous R and B group who had an innate sense of perfect time. When we went to the first rehearsal, he kept quizzically looking at me during the rehearsal and I knew what he meant. Whenever we started a piece, we began in one tempo and always finished in a quicker tempo. The problem was the drummer. Being new to the group, it took a few weeks to convince the original members the drummer needed to be replaced. I called a drummer I played with for years and the problem was solved. This problem I found exclusively among Rock drummers. Never with Jazzers or in R and B. If there are time problems, always look to the drummer . . . Good playing . . . Marinero

  33. #32

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    In our rock band the drummer was actually very good, he played no unnecessary frills and just kept a good steady beat. I think it was just playing live, everyone subconsciously felt the tune should go faster for some reason!

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Hi ragman see my post no. 7, that was actually the next page.
    Yes, got it. Sorry, we saw it. It was a fairly simplistic answer. Mind you, nothing wrong with it per se.

    And certainly familiarity breeds velocity :-)

    I think tunes tend to find their own tempo. Inevitably slow when learning and exploring, then it sort of clicks into place at the right natural tempo for the tune.

  35. #34

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    A good one is the tempo for Signed Sealed Delivered.

    creating excitement at a moderate tempo.... there’s a dying art

  36. #35

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    Signed Sealed Delivered
    Motown really, isn't it?

    I think the excitement's mostly down to the chords - 1 6 4 5 and some bVII7. Great to thump out.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Motown really, isn't it?

    I think the excitement's mostly down to the chords - 1 6 4 5 and some bVII7. Great to thump out.
    its a great bassline and changes, but I think a lot of it’s down to how you play the tempo. A lot of musicians just struggle making medium tempos sit. Those guys were the best feel players. The Beatles attempts at pseudo Motown always sounded a bit leaden by comparison. I love Ringo (probably my favourite Beatle no jokes) but it’s a different vibe.