Saturday, April 11, 2009


It was a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. That day just wasn't any day. It was the day that I heard Miles Davis play in person at the Blackhawk nightclub.

Normally reserved only for those 21 and over, the Blackhawk opened its doors to those under that age on Sundays. It was their way of allowing younger jazz aficionados just one day out of the week to appreciate the live music the Blackhawk showcased.

I had seen Miles' gig at the Blackhawk advertised in the San Francisco newspaper. In the following weeks I planned on how I could sit in on his Sunday session.

It was advertised that those underage would be seated apart from the "watering hole" portion of the club. The area reserved for those of us under 21 had been sectioned off by a 6 foot high wall of chicken wire. Yup, 6 feet high and 20 feet long. It was kind of a bummer having to watch Miles play through chicken wire . . . like being in jail or maybe like being a caged rooster so badly wanting to be let out to be with the "free range" chicks.

Expensive soda was served up by a cranky waitress knowing that the peanut gallery wasn't the best location for tips.

That Sunday I hoped and prayed that Miles just had to be Miles and make for great entertainment. He was which made up for what wasn't right that afternoon. At 16 I had collected most of what Miles had recorded over the years. And at 16 sitting in a nightclub with the other "cats" (or hens peering through chicken wire) was a dream come true.
Miles left San Francisco and later released several albums, part I and part II both recorded at the Blackhawk. They're some of his best work.
As Miles aged he got a little strange in his habits and in his talk. The television show did a piece on Miles several years before he died. Sixty Minutes commentator Ed Bradley, usually a cool cat himself was sometimes at a loss for words during the interview all due to the interesting/off the wall responses that came from Miles Davis. If nothing else, Miles seemed comfortable with who he had become.

When you think about it that's really what life is all about.

Through his music Miles was with me during what I would terms as being the darkest moments of my life. For that I'm grateful.

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Anonymous said...

I love Miles Davis...Innovative, exciting and creative.

For me however, being the Keyboardist that I am, I have always been partial to guys like Herbie Hancock, and Chic Corea.

Thanks for sharing this Bob! And taking me down memory lane.

Bob said...

Fox: I thought you'd appreciate this post. I like Hancock, too. Chic Corea has never really gotten my grind on. Jazz overall, though, rocks!

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