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[whitespace] Miles Davis
Photograph by Vernon Smith

Miles, 1; Wynton, 0

Ever wonder why filmmaker Ken Burns--who used retro-jazz phenom Wynton Marsalis to narrate his Jazz series--didn't show more respect toward Miles Davis? Here's an excerpt from Davis' colorful autobiography Miles (Simon & Schuster, 1989) that sheds a little light on the relationship between Davis and Marsalis.

Let's just say there was no love lost between these two very different personalities:

"Another thing that happened in 1986 that I think is worth mentioning is the incident between me and Wynton Marsalis. It was in Vancouver, Canada, at a festival we were both playing. We were playing at this outdoor amphitheater that was jam-packed. Wynton was scheduled to play the next night. So here I was playing and getting off on what I was doing. All of a sudden I feel this presence coming up on me, this body movement, and I see that the crowd is kind of wanting to cheer or gasp or something. Then Wynton whispers in my ear--and I'm still trying to play--'They told me to come up here.'

"I was so mad at him for doing that shit like that, I just said, 'Man, get the fuck off the stage.' He looked a little shocked when I said it to him like that. After I said that, I said, 'Man, what the fuck are you doing up here on stage? Get the fuck off the stage!' And then I stopped the band. Because we were playing some set pieces and when he came up like that I was trying to give the band some cues. He wouldn't have fit in. Wynton can't play the kind of shit we were playing. He's not into that kind of style and so we would have had to make adjustments to the way he was going to be playing.

"When Wynton did that to me, that showed me he didn't have no respect for his elders."

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From the April 26-May 2, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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