Montreux fetes Miles Davis with "soundtrack" to his life

Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:56am EDT
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By Stephanie Nebehay

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller paid tribute to their friend and mentor Miles Davis, performing a "songtrack to the life" of the late American trumpet player whose music electrified the world of jazz.

The two-hour concert, which stretched into the early hours of Thursday, was a highlight of the annual Montreux Jazz Festival, where Davis is still remembered for driving along Lake Geneva in a red Ferrari.

The jazz great, whose statue stands proudly in a park next to Miles Davis Hall, performed 10 times at Montreux, the last time just two months before his death at age 65 in 1991.

"It doesn't feel like 20 years, it feels like 4 or 5. Miles's music is everywhere. This is dedicated to the spirit of Miles Davis, the most beautiful thing he gave us," said Marcus Miller, the gifted bassist who directed the homage at a sold-out Stravinski Auditorium.

Miller said it was very difficult to hold a retrospective concert for an artist who never looked back, but that when he had the idea for a tribute to Davis this year he immediately decided to call Hancock and Shorter.

At the first rehearsal the three ended up not playing a single note, instead talking about Davis and what they might do to honor him properly.

"Wayne said 'what we don't want to do is play in the style in which it was originally done because we figured Miles would hate that. Let's make it like a soundtrack to Miles's life'," said Miller, wearing his trademark black hat.

"If there were a movie of Miles's life, perhaps this would be the score to that movie."   Continued...

<p>Jazz bassist Marcus Miller (R) performs onstage with saxophonist Wayne Shorter (L) and trumpeter Sean Jones during the tribute to Miles Davis evening at the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 13, 2011. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud</p>