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.


“So, What?”: Miles Davis note for note

I can play an instrument, but I can’t read music.

It must be great to look at a page of sheet music featuring the work of someone like Miles Davis (or John Coltrane or Cannonball Adderley) and be able to “hear” the song, just by reading the notes. It probably would be something like this:

(A really nice interlude posted by Brad Plumer at the Washington Post.)