Local Fans Mourn Miles Davis

Jazz Enthusiasts Plan Tributes to Great Musician

Harvard jazz enthusiasts are mourning the death of legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, as local radio stations continue to play marathon tributes to a pioneer in the music world.

Davis died of pnuemonia and a stroke Saturday at the age of 65. He is credited for his leadership in a variety of movements during his 50-year career, including free jazz, modal jazz, and most recently jazz-rock fusion.

"His death might signal an end of an era. It will inspire a lot of reflection about jazz, where it is, where it is going," said Assistant Professor of Music Graeme M. Boone, who teaches the popular course, Literature and Arts B-71, "Jazz: An American Music.".

"How can my life be complete having never seen Miles live?" asked Randall Eng '94, jazz director at WHRB. "His death leaves us with a huge void...personality-wise there's nobody left like him."

WHRB is deliberating whether to change one of the jazz "orgies"--a marathon playing of one artist during reading period--to pay tribute to Davis, and the jazz department is adding more of Davis's songs to their daily play list, Eng said.

"If you don't play Miles, everyone calls you up and asks you why you aren't," Eng said. "The Miles Davis sound, the sound of his horn, always will be indelible to anyone who hears him."

John A.E. Pottow '93, former WHRB jazz director, said he believes that Davis's death will have little effect on the immediate future of jazz. "Miles really wasn't shaping the music anymore...but he explored new areas, and his legacy will be followed," Pottow said.

Boone said of Davis's recent work, "He was in a questioning mode, asking what jazz is itself."

Fred Taylor, owner of HT Productions--which books artists for various area clubs--said he was a personal friend of Davis and that he can't believe the reknowned musician is gone.

"He was a very unusual man, and could be difficult at times, but he had an aura about him, a mystique, that you don't see in many musicians today," said Taylor.

Taylor said that plans are in the works for an area tribute, possibly as soon as November 15.