Miles Davis nonet

The Sundance festival in early-2019 is to premiere a new Miles Davis Birth of the Cool documentary. Directed by the Emmy-winning Stanley Nelson the film features unseen footage, with interviewees participating including Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, Clive Davis, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter.

“What I hoped to discover was the man behind the myth. By unpacking his upbringing, his methodology, his relationships, and his demons, we begin to understand the man who would redefine the original American musical genre, jazz and has influenced generations of musicians in rock, funk and hip-hop,” Nelson has commented.  

Miles Davis, standing above, right, ushering in the “Birth of the Cool”.

One thing we at marlbank have not written much about this year is the piano trio. Now regular readers over the last five years will know that that fact is unusual. That the saxophone has taken over in jazz from the piano trio since the advent of Kamasi Washington may be one reason; another might be that for a while after the demise of EST a lot of bands tended to sound very like EST but were nowhere near the same even if they tried hard to be.

ECM managed however to bring out quite a few great piano trios and they still are home to some of the best of the best. The new Bobo Stenson Contra la Indecisión a very unEST-like trio as it happened this year for instance is a marvel.

I confess I hated the almost seizure-inducing lights at the big Albert Hall early-November gig that GoGo Penguin put on but I did not go for the lightshow. Everything else I loved and returned to A Humdrum Star with pleasure even after my initial scepticism when I had heard it first months before.

No the piano trio is not quite what it was and GoGo Penguin are not EST. But when I listened to the soaring bass of Nick Blacka and then when I stepped back and just this week listened to an early still unreleased version of the brilliant Rymden’s Reflections and Odysseys which will be released in early-2019, Bugge Wesseltoft joining the two surviving members of EST in an incredibly immersive prog-jazz tour de force, my heart simply leaps. The legend lives on however you look at it. SG