As I Heard It: Playing Bass With Miles Davis

My son, Miles, who we named after the great trumpet player, Miles Davis, told me about this story he saw on Reddit the other day. And it’s one I’ve never heard before.

That’s my boy!


A good friend of my jazz professor was a young (I think he said like 20), white jazz bass player trying to make his name in the Boston area. Not many gigs, just barely surviving, yet slowly making a name for himself. He gets a call one evening from his manager, who tells him about a spur-of-the-moment gig that he was called about. Miles Davis was in town touring, and his bass player at the time got pretty ill and could not play, so they were looking for a replacement. Granted he immediately accepted and went to the venue to rehearse.

When he got there, he met the band, met Miles, and focused on his work. Few words were said, as of course he was intimidated, and I’m sure Miles was feeling him out.

So I guess Miles was getting into the cool, and had become pretty flashy at that point. The show started, and everyone starts up, while Miles emerges on stage. The first couple tracks go well with no hiccups and a pretty impressive debut for the bass player.

For convenience sake I will now give you the rest of the story from the bass player’s perspective:
“So I think I’m killing it. I start to loosen up a bit realizing I have the chops to play with Miles! By the fourth song, Miles starts doing something kind of odd. He would strut around the stage, and when he would pass by me, he would stop and point down. So I immediately lowered my volume. Miles made the rounds again, stopping at me and giving me the same signal, but this time pointing harder and following the downward point with a stern downward head nod. I’m like, ‘Shit I just fucked up in front of Miles twice.’ And now I’m getting nervous. Miles continued like five or six times like this, each time pointing down harder, with more aggression and more anger. At this point, my bass is completely off — no volume — and Miles kept telling me to turn it down. As he approached me again and gave me yet another point down, I just kind of snapped and yelled, ‘MILES I’M ALL THE WAY DOWN. JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!’

“At that point, he put his arm around him, and with his raspy voice yelled into his ear, ‘Check out my shoes, motherfucker!'”

1 Comment

  • Bendpress says:

    Haha! Good one. Some of the best stories you’ll ever hear come from the Miles Davis jazz realm. Read his bio for sure.

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