Tybee Post Theater will pay homage to one of the most innovative and influential American musicians to date.
Trumpet legend Miles Davis' legacy extends far beyond jazz, the genre he helped define and redefine throughout his four-decade career. Beginning in the mid-1940s, Davis emerged in the bebop days as a member of Charlie Parker's quintet. Into the 1950s, Davis would strike out on his own, recording several albums that would later come to canonize multiple genres of jazz.
A highly prolific composer and player, Davis recorded more than 50 studio albums, 36 live albums, 35 compilation albums and 57 singles. Chief among those recordings is the most popular jazz album to date, "Kind of Blue."
The Music of Miles Davis on Oct. 27, part of the Jazz Legends series, will feature a piano trio with Savannah State University music professor Eric Jones leading a night of Davis standards as well as some tunes in the spirit of the great trumpet player.
"There are so many things about Miles that are special," Jones said. "I think one thing about him is he was able to find his voice at a relatively young age. Miles wasn't the most virtuosic musician in his technique, but what he did was take the certain limitations of his own playing and defined his own voice. To the point, you recognize Miles when you hear the first note."
This tribute to the "Prince of Darkness" will be anything but ordinary. Jones has decided to extend the set beyond just Davis' work to include tunes by some of his contemporaries, as well as musicians Davis mentored.
"I kind of look at it as in the spirit of Miles Davis; what he represented," Jones said. "I mean of course, we've got music from 'Kind of Blue.' We'd be remiss if we didn't do the 'Kind of Blue' album.
"Also, what I wanted to do was take those compositions and do a treatment of them. We could never do Miles. First thing, we don't have that voice. We don't have that trumpet voice in this particular group. It's going to be a piano trio, which makes it pretty interesting.
"One thing about Miles, from doing his music and reading his autobiography and interviews, he was a person who was about progressing the music. Almost like not looking back. We want to bring that same spirit. We have 'All Blues,' 'So What' and lesser-known tunes like 'Nardis.'"
Released in 1959, "Kind of Blue" introduced the world to a new genre of jazz - one of the five distinctive styles of jazz Davis would help define over his career. To date, it is the best-selling jazz record of all time. It was certified quadruple platinum in 2008, with 4 million copies sold. Although influenced by bebop, "Kind of Blue" rewrote the playbook on improvisation, pushing the boundaries of jazz beyond the status quo of its predecessors.
Recorded in only two sessions in early 1959, Davis and his quintet of alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, did very little rehearsal prior to the recording. Davis handed the band only outlines of modal scales and melodies for the tunes with brief instructions on their arrangement. That improvisational style left a wide range of creative freedom for the musicians.
Jones is hoping to capture that spirit with his own trio, drummer Robert Saunders and bassist Brett Belanger.
"These guys are amazing," Jones said of his band. "It's going to be an interplay between all of us. Saunders is from Savannah. He's a first-call, world-class musician. He's came a long way from the first time when I met him as a kid to now. He's a great musician. Just a well-rounded, out-of-the-box player.
"Belanger is a bassist from the Charleston area. He's a great player and a friend of mine. He's somebody that I've developed a relationship with over the years. I've heard him play and I love the way he plays. It's a nice, tight group. There's going to be a big sound from that trio."
The trio will also honor jazz greats like Wayne Shorter, who played with Davis' Second Great Quintet. After the quintet with Davis, Shorter would co-found the highly influential jazz fusion band Weather Report.
Davis, known for his ornery disposition, died in 1991 at the age of 65, after a coma from a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by an outburst directed at his doctors. Davis had a lifelong struggle with substance abuse, but often translated those struggles into his music.
"I think probably the most important point about Davis' music, from a wide spectrum, is the idea of taking chances and not being afraid of going to the edge of the cliff," Jones said. "That's why he was such an innovator. He changed the scope of music, and not just jazz music, but 20th century music throughout his career."
IF YOU GO
What: The Music of Miles Davis featuring Eric Jones
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 27
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.