Today I’m listening to Yo Miles! and Yo Miles – Sky Garden, by Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith. Four CDs, just over five hours of music, most of it versions of Miles Davis stuff from 1969-70 (Sky Garden) and 1972-75 (Yo Miles!). There are some originals, too, mostly by Wadada Leo Smith, that attempt to capture that heady early-’70s-Miles flavor. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t. The worst one can say about “Who’s Targeted?” is that it sounds more like Mwandishi than Miles. Since I like Mwandishi too (much more than the wildly overrated Headhunters), I’m fine with that.
Anyway, I’m listening to this stuff, and thinking about it, because it features in the final chapter of the book, which I’m currently writing. Chapter 13 is called “Post-Miles,” and it’s all about the way his music and concepts have spread through the soundworld we all live in. Everything from hearing that ominous keyboard hook from “Honky Tonk” sampled on a hip-hop record to things like Yo Miles! and Tim Hagans’s twin CDs Animation/Imagination and Re-Animation Live! and, possibly more than any of the others, Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar.
I interviewed Tate for the book (the saga of who I interviewed, who I didn’t, and how being turned down for various interviews shaped what Running The Voodoo Down became, to my mind for the better, will be dealt with in a later post), not only to ask him about Burnt Sugar but to get some feedback from a guy who’d been grappling with electric Miles for about 15 years longer than me, had in fact seen him play live in the early 1970s in Washington, D.C.
It was a long, interesting conversation. Very little of it will make the book, which makes me want to find someplace to put the remainder. Maybe here. I don’t know.