The 2011-12 Arts and Cultural Events series at Western Carolina University continues with “The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
With many students not having been able to grow up with Miles Davis’ music or understand the musician’s importance to jazz music, however, some may be wondering with skepticism: Why should I bother to go?
According to information given by the event’s coordinator, Lori Davis, if you belong to this group of students, you of all people would benefit from attending.
“[The show is] targeted for those too young to have had the chance to experience this critical period’s work, or those not lucky enough to have seen him performing in his time,” Davis said. “The show includes live music performed in the manner it was first presented, with [50s] era photos brought together by a beat poet-style narrator.
“Students should come because Miles Davis is an important artist in history and in music,” Davis added when asked why students should attend. “I can’t think of a reason any student or staff or faculty member shouldn’t come.”
“The Miles Davis Experience” is led by Blue Note Records artist and trumpeter, Ambrose Akinmusire. Joining him will be tenor saxophone player Walter Smith III, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown, all five comprising the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet. But the show is more than just an opportunity for students to hear music: beat poet-style narrator and actor Donald Lacy will be present and has arranged a display of iconic images from the 50s era as well.
“[The Miles Davis Experience] started as a collaboration between CAMI Music and Blue Note Records and grew to work with the Miles Davis Estate and various other Miles Davis experts as a way to introduce people to Miles Davis,” said Pamela Lipshitz, publicist and president of Lip Service Media. “The participants should come away hearing a great young band that is going places. They should also get some historical information about what was happening in America in the 50s, in Civil Rights, the jazz movement etc.
“They will also, of course, get an overview of Miles’ early career, where he came from, where he studied, who influenced him and his playing, and who he influenced,” she added.
Miles Davis is best known for his work on “Birth of the Cool” and, what many consider to be his magnum opus, 1959’s “Kind of Blue”. The latter was honored in a resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives as being a national treasure in November of 2009. The album is the best-selling jazz album of all time with 4 million copies sold.
Right now, the Miles Davis Experience is completing a U.S. tour that started on Sept. 28 and runs through Nov. 20.
Tickets for the “The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959,” on sale now, are $10 ($5 for students). To purchase, call the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or visit bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.