Patience and Listening

The musicians of Miles Davis' electric period reminisce in Electric Miles: A Different Kind Of Blue about their leader's quality as a listner. Keith Jarret dubs him the best listening band leader. When these young guys were making sound, creating a mass of rhythms and vibrations they often felt lost, wondering what it was they were doing, where it all was going. And then Miles would play a phrase or melody which would illuminate the chaos, revealing the pieces and pointing the way. And the music made sense; the musicans were once again en ensemble. B.Franklin's autobiography coems to mind again, and for two reasons. One is the virtue of patience. Miles knew what he was doing, he understood the tension in balance between form and free expression. His musicans may have felt lost, perhaps confused, but they had the patience -- and foresight -- to rely on their master musican band leader. He had a vision and direction to pick the pieces of music and give it meaning. The other virtue, and the one that allowed the patience of the musicans, was Miles' keen ability to listen. To not always be talking and playing over everybody, feeling and following a groove far out beyond others' perception. He was interested in working with others as a team, as a band. Miles was open to the ideas and the playing of his younger bandmates; in truth, he relied on them. His music is great because he listened to where everyone was coming from and where they were going. And then he gave them all a vehicle to travel in, one that would accomodate all of their points of departure and all of their destination. Creative improvisation with a strong common voice.

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