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"Miles didn't just play instruments - he played people."

Jazz had long stood at the forefront of groundbreaking music: pushing new ideas into popular culture, worshipping the beat, the rhythm, the groove which stood quite simply for the disenfranchised and the downtrodden.

By Juan Rodriguez, Canwest News Service

Miles Davis wrote in his scabrousautobiography about being invited to a White House dinner in 1987. An older woman asked the not-so-modest trumpeter what he'd done to merit being there. Davis shot back, "Well, I've changed music five or six times." Drum roll, please ...Davis was hailed as "The Picasso of Jazz," a phrase that Nathalie Bondil, director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, appropriated to explain the multimedia exhibition We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz, which opens on Friday.

Fifteen years and eight Grammy Awards after its launch in 1996, Columbia/Legacy's critically acclaimed Miles Davis Series continues to honor the most prolific and influential figure in 20th century modern jazz. In celebration of Miles' 84th birthday on May 26, 2010, the stage is set for a multi-tiered commemoration of the life and times, and the music and art, of Miles Davis.

Starting this Friday, April 30th and running through August 29th, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is innovating once again with the presentation of the first major North American multimedia retrospective dedicated to Miles Davis. "We Want Miles": Miles Davis vs. Jazz will combine image and sound to offer visitors a sensory experience inspired by Miles Davis himself.

The fifth annual Miles Davis Festival will be held starting at 12:00 p.m. Saturday August 14th at the Commons at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL.

Saxophonist Michael Anthony Fitzgerald returns from last year's festival lineup to headline the 2010 event.

For more information visit www.AllAboutJazz.com

Miles Davis' Longtime Friend Buddy Gist Dies

GREENSBORO - Greensboro native Arthur "Buddy" Gist, the longtime friend of jazz great Miles Davis, died Sunday at the Golden Living Center.

Gist, 84, had been living there since July, when he suffered a stroke.

The jazz enthusiast grew up in the Magnolia House, the spot off Gorrell Street that his mother ran. It was the only place between Atlanta and Richmond, Va., where blacks could stay during the Jim Crow era. Musicians such as Louis Armstrong ate country ham slathered with maple syrup cooked by Buddy's mom.

Miles Davis songs truly were miles ahead of the pack. Just think, in his 50-year career, Davis covered more ground than the likes of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and even John Coltrane. Starting with his bebop apprenticeship with Charlie Parker, Davis went on to record orchestral numbers with Gil Evans, worked with John Coltrane, formed a second great quintet, developed an electric fusion sound and even transcended into pop in the '80s and early '90s. One reason for his success was his unerring ability to find brilliant new sidemen to push the music new directions.

Do you suppose Alex Boisvert loves music? We've got Jimi Hendrix, Natalie Cole, Britney Spears, Sade and, of course, Miles Davis to supply the hint that ties the theme answers together and has us singing the blues.

Click here to read more:
http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/classic-miles

Mike Zwerin, a trombonist who became a jazz journalist and shot to fame with miles Davis on the seminal album, "Birth of the Cool", has died at age 79. The musician died in Paris in the early hours of Friday after a long illness, his family said.

The Auditorium Theatre and River North Chicago Dance Company are teaming up to premiere an original work next season set to the music of jazz great Miles Davis.

River North artistic director Frank Chaves will choreograph the as-yet-untitled piece, set to Davis music to be determined later. It will be unveiled in a concert on April 16th, 2011, marking River North's debut at the Auditorium, 50 E. Congress Parkway. Davis, who died in 1991, would have turned 85 next year.

March 30: Today is 40th anniversary of the Columbia Records release of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew." Revered today as one of the greatest albums of all time in any genre, "Bitches Brew" shattered previous conceptions of what a jazz album could be.

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