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Miles Davis: Muse, Mannerist or Musician?

June 23, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Is Miles Davis a muse, a mannerist or a musician?

The question’s been asked in the jazz world for years. Sometimes he’s more of one than the other two, but on the opening night of this year’s JVC Jazz Festival he played a bit of each role.

As muse, he drifted dreamily across the stage, noodling on his trumpet. As mannerist, he committed such no-nos as playing most of the set with his back to the audience. As musician, he engaged his players in conversation that ranged from intimate to vigorous.

Davis and his six-piece band entered august Avery Fisher Hall cooking, and left the same way Friday night. The audience stomped and howled for more, but what they heard was what they got. Besides, Miles Davis and the Miles Davis Band had a late show to play.

Davis, who’s passed beyond the legend stage to the cult figure level, might appear indifferent to his audience, but never to his music. His duels and duets with saxophonist Kenny Garrett and lead bassist Joseph Foley McCreary were the highlights of the evening.

Hiroshima, an American band with some Oriental affectations, played the first half of the bill at a highly amplified level that often drowned out whatever musical effects were intended. In pre-electronic media days, it might have been described as a novelty act. Hiroshima, a stadium band, had little to do with jazz.

The JVC Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Japanese electronics firm, runs in New York through June 30 and then moves on to Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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