Miles Davis on television: ‘So What’

There have been a number of clicks on a post I did a couple of years ago on a note for note presentation of Miles Davis’s “So What.” It was interesting to watch the instrumental come to live on sheet music, but I realized I haven’t spent any time watching videos of Miles Davis performing.

So, the above video is a live performance for television, no audience other than technicians and the studio orchestra, from April 2, 1959. I was three years old at the time so I wouldn’t have understood it. The music’s pretty complicated. Miles on trumpet. Coltrane on sax. But now that I’m older I know the word that best describes what I’m hearing.


Not “cool” in the way it’s used today, when a 5-year-old says it as he pulls a toy out of his McDonald’s Happy Meal.

It’s just “cool” in that 1950s, smoke-filled room, beatnik with sunglasses and beret sense of the word.

I wish I could be cool like that.


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