George Wein was interviewed recently by Mike Ragogna of The Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt from their conversation about Miles Davis:
Mike Ragogna: George, you’re associated with the creation of the new box set Miles Davis At Newport 1955-1975. What was it like for you the first time you saw him at Newport?
George Wein: This was back in 1955, and Miles didn’t have a band. I was in a club one night in New York and he was there and we announced the lineup for the second Newport Jazz Festival. Miles says, “Hey, you’re doing a jazz festival in Newport? Well, you can’t have a jazz festival without me,” so I said, “All right, I’ll call your agent.” I put Miles on the festival. He wasn’t even advertised, I had to put a band together. It was Thelonius Monk on piano, Gerry Mulligan on tenor saxophone–I think Zoot Sims was there, I’m not sure–and Connie Kay and Percy Heath on bass. They played a set and Miles put his horn up to the microphone and played Thelonius Monk’s “‘Round Midnight.” It was the hit of the festival. He came off the stage and people were signing him up to record deals. The only thing he had to say was, “Tell Monk he plays the wrong changes to “‘Round Midnight.” That’s all he said to me.