Profanity in Jazz?

Discussion in 'Jazz / Commercial' started by Rick Chartrand, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Rick Chartrand

    Rick Chartrand Piano User

    Nov 22, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Hi Everyone/Manny

    I have an interesting subject. My Favorite musician of all time is Miles Davis. I really love his sound and totally respect him for the musician he was. I do not use profanity or vulgarity in my everyday speech because I dont think it is nessasary to use such language to comunicate efectivly. Here's the subject. If I hear this kind of language from someone I usually try to avoid this person, my girlfriend is the same way. Miles (if you have read his autobiography) uses a lot of questionalbe language. Because of who Miles is and what he has done artisticlally, I tend not to hear his cussing. My girlfriend on the other hand cant stand Miles Davis speciifically because of the gutter vernacular he uses, and therefore dismisses anything he has done. Thoughts?

    Rick AKA Trumpet Man
  2. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    Miles is Miles.... just being Miles.
    Not much more you can say. He gets a lot of leeway because of his artistic ability. There are things about him Idon't like, but I won
    't let that affect the way I view his playing/composing. He's #1, in my book.

  3. chetbaker

    chetbaker Pianissimo User

    Nov 17, 2003
    Growing up in the '60's I was a huge Miles Davis fan. Around 1968, during a semester break from college, 4-5 of us (all musicians) went to the "City" to see Miles' group at the Village Vanguard. He had Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock with him at the time! We get there, pay our $15 cover charge...get a front row seat...and when the band is about to hit it they announce that Miles won't make the gig that night. Mind you, the cover charge + a minimun of 2 drinks per show is only good for one set. Once the first set is over they clear the room and bring in new customers (unless you want to re-pay for the 2nd set). We dug the group without Miles so much we paid again and caught the 2nd set...they were absolutely smokin'!! Being young with time on our hands we decide to come back to the Vanguard the next night to catch the group...hopefully with Miles this time. Well, he made it there and so did we, all of us anxious to see this "god" of the trumpet. Everytime Miles played that night he used a harmon mute...and...catch this...stood at the back of the stage with his back to the audience! He did this the entire time we were there. About twenty minutes into the 1st set he finally turns around facing the audience...walks to the front of the stage...and proceeds to blow his nose (without a handkerchief or tissue) all over the floor of the stage! We couldn't believe it. Now remember...this was 1968 and we weren't used to things like this back then! friends and I, along with 10-15 other patrons, immediately got up...looked at him and laughed...and walked out. That night finished me with Miles...I don't care how well he plays. Not only was it vulgar...but you got the sense that he was simply being condescending towards the audience (who was paying his salary that night, I might add!) and snotting all over them! PLUS..the group sounded a heck of alott better when it was minus him.

  4. jpkaminga

    jpkaminga Pianissimo User

    Jul 1, 2004
    I've heard that Miles was a jerk but that last story was a real horror, what was he thinking? I love the music he makes, he had a style that was incredibly influential not just on trumpet players but also the whole music scene. On the other hand I feel like he never left the cool minimalist style that made him famous, this kind of diappoints me, even when he was doing fusion he was still super cool, it almost seems like he wasn't willing to take enough risks in his improvisation. He does improvise with the best of them but within those perfectly cool boundaries. I guess my main problem with him is that I feel like he didn't go as far as his longtime bandmate John Coltrane. He always played with the best musicians so I can definitely see how the band might sound better without him. Williams, Carter and Hancock are my favorite rhythm section ever (and I know I'm not alone on that one) and Wayne Shorter is the man.

    As for vulgar language, some people just get in the habit of using certain words vulgar or not, and if you and your colleagues have been using certain words for years then you probably feel like you cannot communicate without them. Words only bother me when I don't understand them. A musician that won't face the crowd and snots on them has got a serious ego problem. I still like most of Miles' music though.
  5. MahlerBrass

    MahlerBrass Piano User

    Oct 1, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I've read the Mile biography and there is a lot of profanity used in the book, but point is, he's recognized as a musician not as a person. I don't think that someone has to be a Sunday Chrisitian in order to be able to admire their work. I think it's all about keeping an open mind, I know there's plenty of other great musicians in the workd that are total jerks, but hey, we admire their playing, not their personality right? I don't remember ever buying a trumpet CD because the musician was a nice guy. ;-)
  6. trumpetpimp

    trumpetpimp Piano User

    Dec 6, 2003
    I haven't actually read the whole book(yet) but skimmed through a fair bit of if while writing a paper last year. I remember he used strong language but I don't remember a lot things that were actually terribly offensive. i.e. Racist, sexist, etc. The story of his life isn't always pretty and he tells it like it is, quite candidly at that.

    If you don't like the way he speaks(writes) then don't read his book. Just buy his records and transcribe his solos. Just because he was a jerk doesn't mean he didn't do a lot for jazz. He did play the trumpet pretty well, after all. :-)

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Forget being a "Sunday Christian" -- how about just being pleasant and nice?

    You see, I don't care how good a musician is if I am giving him/her my money. I don't want some jerk to get wealthy because of me. Nope -- I cannot support gansta rap and bling bling either.

    You may be who you are -- but people can and do change. Have some respect for the people who pay your wages. I am sorry, if someone is a jerk, I am not inclined to give them my money.

    And I do remember choosing CDs because of how nice the people were or are -- and where the money is going!

    But I just don't see any excuse for why a high profile person cannot be respectful. I'll never be an Oakland Raiders fan either. On any given NFL Sunday, I have three favorite teams. The Broncos (grew up in Colorado), the Colts (I am in Indiana now) and whoever is playing the Raiders.

    Behavior is important to some people -- like me.

  8. Rick Chartrand

    Rick Chartrand Piano User

    Nov 22, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Hi Everyone

    Welll well well Trumpetmaster is back on line...'sighs relief' :lol: To the subject at hand. Man what a story about Miles 'snotting on the stage' thats hoggish!

    Heres a little of my understanding of Miles behavior. Miles always said that he was only interested in the music and turned to the other musicians (from our point of view on the audience) so he could concentrate on the music.

    Im not defending this behavior but can understand wanting to concentrate on the music being performed. Miles always had white and black 'issues'' specially with his music, and as far as I can tell he (stupidly) viewed kind caring personable guys like Dizzy Gillespie as stupid because Miles Felt they were acting like what I thiink was called 'Uncle Toms.' Blacks who made clowns of themselves entertaining white people. If a white guy is personable to his audience he is considered nice, but Miles thought that if a black guy did it, he was an 'Uncle Tom.' How stupid and reverse rasist is that? :oops:

    I saw many of Dizzys performances and interviews and he was nothing but a nice guy.
    But because Miles was passed up as a very very young teen on trumpet playing opportunitties because as he said in his autobiography ''the awards went to the white kids, so I made up my mind to out-do anyone white on my horn.'' He developed an almost arrogant anti-white attitude, And thats where his attitude derived from.

    I LOVE Miles work and I play cause I saw him 15 years ago in Toronto and had never heard a sound like that, and probably never will again. But I think Miles was a jerk regarding how he treated his audience. ON the other hand you cant play with all the love and emotion he played with and not be a nice guy under the facade.

    I am with the guy who said audience deserves respect. I am in between gigs and am a self employed street busker and I make a nice little living at it. I have what we trumpeters refer to as 'the sound' and people many times compiliment me on my playing. My point is that I am just a street busker but I have a great connection with my audience and love to play to and for them. I would NEVER disrespect my audience like Miles did, and I think that was one of his great downfalls. Thoughts?

    Rick AKA Trumpet Man :D
  9. blutch

    blutch Pianissimo User

    Dec 25, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    I don't offer this as an excuse but as an explanation. Miles was SERIOUSLY addicted. This would explain such behavior. Not to mention that he was an extremely bitter racist.

    In spite of all this, he was a brilliant innovator. Of course.. so was Clifford and he was a beautiful human as well. Its a shame he didn't live as long as Miles.

  10. Rick Chartrand

    Rick Chartrand Piano User

    Nov 22, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Hi Guys

    Ya I read his Autobiography, and it was good but VERY vulgar regarding the language he'd use. I was thinking the same thing regarding his addiction and the snotting the stage story.

    Theres so much stuff he said in the book that you knew he had to be high to so such things.

    My wife is just the greatest lady and is a Christian, and when we met she instantly hated Miles after reading a couple pages of his Autobiography. She cant understand how I can love his music and can take him or leave him as a person. I simply told her for me its a music issue. I can love someones music and not care for them as a person. She isnt a musician though and has a hard time understanding that which is understandable.

    I love Miles music unconditionally, but as far as the guy goes, sometimes I can take him or leave him...depends on my mood :roll:

    Rick AKA Trumpet Man

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