Remembering Miles Davis On His 90th Birthday

first_imgOn May 26th, 1926, one of most iconic musicians of all time came into the world: Miles Davis. Born to rare black middle class parents, Davis would grow from boy to adult through some of the nation’s hardest times, and his music would help an exhausted post war country regain its attitude of hope. His innovations caused seismic shifts in the music world, as trends like Bebop, Cool, Hard Bop, Blue, and Fusion sprung from his need to seek something beyond what he heard around him.  Davis regularly went beyond his own boundaries, fearlessly looking for the next wave.  Sadly, a closer look at his life reveals he was likely searching for anything he could control in the midst of a runaway life.Davis wasn’t one for bending his notes, keeping vibrato to a minimum for most of his career.  His playing was so captivating because it was so honest.  You were seeing directly into him.  The rawness, the energy masterfully restrained into short, staccato flights of fancy held the jazz community’s attention for decades. He started playing live during World War II, when he was still in high school.  Though he would himself inspire many devoted fans, he idolized Charlie Parker, and in the fall of 1944, he finally managed a jam session with him and the some of the founding fathers of the Bebop movement.  The uptempo attitude, sunny sky songs caused a national stir, and many stars were minted. Not one to rest on helping create an entire wave of musical style, he soon went on to help bring around the birth of cool jazz. The cool jazz sound was an experiment to make the music a voice its own, with an emphasis on the organic and flowing rhythms, even in the solos. Davis went abroad in the early fifties.  While he had faced institutional racism in America, he found himself a well regarded genius and was treated accordingly in France.  He had a love affair with the country itself, which ended tragically when he returned to New York and fell into a heroin addiction.  The legend goes that he locked himself away for protracted periods, going through a painful and prolonged withdrawal.  It’s either amazing or tragic that he continued to perform through all of this. Losing his voice after the strain of an operation, he gained a raspy tone, that coupled with his haunting playing created an other-worldly air about him.  In his musical journeys around the world, he fell in love with modal forms of song structure, basing lengthy music passages around long sustained notes and tones, and expanded his free flow solos into entirely imporvised pieces, taking the entire band along for the ride.He was a rare player in all accounts.  A musician’s musician who also also held the public’s attention. Though the critical acclaim he fet he deserved was lauded on contemporaries, the players who took the stage with him is a parade of names etched into the walls of jazz History.  The aforementioned Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Thelonius Monk, Sonny Rollins, Art Taylor, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Bill Evans, Bennie Maupin, John McLaughlin to name just a few.  He was as proficient at recruiting existing greats as discovering diamonds in the rough.  His playing didn’t just elevate those around them, it inspired them to play beyond themselves.In 1959, Miles Davis released the highest selling jazz album of all time, Kind Of Blue, with pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley filling out his band. Employing his adapted modal techniques, the compositions were roughly outlined, and each player given a range of tone and scale that they were free to solo within.  His choice in musicians was an inspired one, as each lived up to the trust placed in them. The five songs that comprised the two sides of the album, “So What“, “Freddie Freeloader“,  “Blue In Green“, “All Blues“, and “Flamenco Sketches” were something of a culmination of all that Davis had dabbled in up to this point, and the freshness of the sound, the adeptness of the instrumentalists and the plain honesty of the voice caused the album to transcend considerations of race, taste and social standing.  It was art, and it was for everyone.  In 2009, Congress made possibly the most unneeded, though completely deserved, declaration, proclaiming the album a national treasure.“So What”As the sixties led to an explosion of psychedelia and funk in a response to a national unrest over continuing racial tensions and the long running war in Vietnam, Davis found his attention wandering yet again.  He formed a blended band of acoustic and  instruments, and led a funk oriented group that produced challenging, dense funk with compositions overflowing with jamming tangents and free form soul.  He played rock festivals and found a ready made audience, eager for something to stretch the boundaries that had defined bands like Parliament–Funkadelic and Sly & The Family Stone. His work of this period became known as “Space Music“, a label he did not fight.  He, as always, used his music to express his emotion, and again, like always, left a feeling of fury and abandon echoing in the minds of his listeners long after the last notes were played.  Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970As the seventies wore on, he honed his fusion of rock and jazz, releasing albums like Dark Magus, Agharta, and Pangaea which broke loose from the confines of the studio. With compositions both rock and jazz, the trio served as almost a musical Rosetta Stone, a secret code to an all new language that Davis was conceiving on the fly.  Challenged audiences were divided, with some instantly swept away in the sonic maelstrom, while others found the aggressive variances of tone and breakneck pace shifts occasionally bordering on atonal to be more than they could handle.  Though his music was breaking bonds, his mind was being slowly locked down, as he faced a deteriorating mental state and a devolution into near hermitage when not onstage.  His work in the eighties took a turn for the more superficial, as his own years of ravaged living had taken their toll.  His newer material did not satisfy new audiences, though, a true iconoclast to the end, he refused repeated, reportedly huge offers to re-embrace his older catalog.  He remained true to his belief that, as an artist, he should always be exploring, even if his steps led him down a path no one was willing to follow him on.His relevance superceded genre.  He wrote a songbook that stands up to anyone who ever lived, and played his instrument with an eloquence rare beyond value.  He was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and for his influence of the very language of improvisational music it was an honor well deserved.  The list of musicians who would readily tell you how much of an influence Miles’ sound has had on them is likely longer than the amount of words in every column and blurb posted on this site today…and probably the entire week.  As under his masterful control his sound was…that’s how out of control his personal life became. The sad tales of addiction and the mental difficulties he went through in fighting them are oft and far better told than I could muster here.  He was a world wide phenomenon.  He was an ambassador of sound, telling tales of anger and anguish, hope and joy with a voice so unique that there was no mistaking it.  While it would be over stating that any fan of improvisational music further explored by bands like the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and Phish should delve into the works of Miles Davis, it is surely true that the music they love was influenced by the work of the man. To celebrate this great man’s life, sit back and let the music of the following video, “Around The Midnight,” wash over you. You’ll be glad you did.last_img read more

Decoding languages in the lab

first_imgA fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in linguistics studying semantics and pragmatics, Teodora Mihoc, a native speaker of Romanian, has become deeply involved in the lab as both user and manager. She has used lab experiments to understand expressions that contain numerals.“My original training is in formal semantics, but I’ve come to appreciate that, in a lot of the work I am doing, experimental data can be very handy in both testing predictions coming from theory and further probing unexpected patterns.”Davidson said the work done in the lab, with its unique focus on understudied spoken and sign languages, is critical knowledge for the wider world.“Most linguistics research is based on a small number of data points from a small number of languages,” she said. “We’re interest in broadening that data through experimentation in a way that is informed by the productive theories in our field. Involving more languages, especially sign languages, in this sort of research highlights their valuable contributions to humanity.”Aside from being a place where students run experiments, the lab is also a place that increases the potential for spontaneous interaction. “We learn the tools of the trade from each other — everything to do with experimental design, statistical analysis, etc., but also ways to make sense of our data theoretically. Yesterday I was walking in the lab, and I had a question I was trying to find a solution for. I told another lab member about it, and the ensuing discussion helped me see a solution I couldn’t see before. Today I’m already doing something on it.“You can’t teach that in a seminar,” Mihoc added. “It’s a doing thing. That’s what you get out of a lab, the how-to.”For that reason, Davidson wants the lab to feel “porous,” so that Mihoc or any student can spend time there and feel welcome, since that organic process helps critical study happen.“The idea of collecting data in a more controlled way is new in linguistics in the last 20 years,” she said. “Languages are very different from each other, and we need to have more controlled ways to collect data. It’s the same as an archaeologist digging up a pot. You have to compare it to another one from another country.” EDGE OF DISCOVERYFifth in a series of articles on cutting-edge research at Harvard.Dorothy Ahn stood behind a video camera, recording a fellow researcher reading simple sentences — “One girl is my friend. That girl plays soccer”— while pointing for emphasis.The filming was part of a research experiment comparing speech gestures in English and Korean, among half a dozen studies in Kathryn Davidson’s young Meaning and Modality Linguistics lab — which, as one of the few such facilities in the humanities, is something of an experiment in itself.“Experimental study is crucial to my work. Becoming part of this lab has allowed me to develop this aspect fully,” said Ahn, a fifth-year graduate student in semantics and psycholinguistics. “Before joining this lab, I did some of my experimental work [elsewhere], but most of my current experiments would have had to find some other department to house them.”Created two years ago when Davidson joined the linguistics faculty, the Meaning and Modality facility, known to its users as the M&M lab, studies meaning across natural languages, both spoken and sign.Much of its work involves behavioral experiments on questions in semantics, which models linguistic meaning using tools from formal logic. Bilingualism and gesture prosody (the patterns of intonation and stress) are also areas of study. The lab has run experiments in Korean, French, Romanian, Malayalam, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese, along with American, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian sign languages.The lab functions as a controlled environment in which to find linguistic touchstones in languages, as well as to learn some of the similarities and differences contained in them, to understand better how human communication operates.The lab, Davidson said, formalizes and encourages “shared knowledge. It’s helpful to be in the same space, especially in academia, because we’re trying to figure out things we don’t know about yet. In a company, it might also be important to work together in a shared space, but it might already have institutionalized manuals for important procedures. Here, we’re trying to generate new knowledge, and working to come up with new manuals for how to do what we need to do.“The knowledge isn’t just sitting on a shelf, ready for us to pull it out. We need to work together to solve problems that arise in language data collection and analysis.”,One project involves investigating how “negative polarity items” (words such as “ever” and “yet,” which are used in conditional sentences) may be blocked in some languages. The idea is to help uncover why they exist in languages at all.Undergraduate Anna Alsop describes the lab as a second home, confirming for her that she made the right decision to concentrate in linguistics.“I came into College interested in majoring in either chemistry or computer science, but I also really like languages and was looking for a way to combine all of these interests,” said the Kirkland House senior, who is studying contrastive inference in English and Japanese. “Linguistics is very rigorous, and its approach is very scientific and logical and inquiry-oriented. Many students I meet on campus are interested in my coursework and research. They don’t just say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s Noam Chomsky.’ They are more open to my explaining it.”Alsop said the synergy and teamwork fostered in the lab are palpable, and have provided her with exciting opportunities. In January, she presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Society of America in Salt Lake City, and last fall presented at the inaugural Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania.“I feel much more at home in the lab and in the department. It’s cool to brush shoulders with graduate students and postdocs,” she said. “What Kate does is so broad, and there are so many research questions being tackled that a lot of things overlap. When someone presents in our weekly meetings, it gives someone else ideas: ‘Oh, wow, that’s a different approach. You should look up my write-up to this paper.’”The lab’s growth has followed increased interest in the department. Davidson’s introductory survey course “Language, Structures and Cognition” has more than doubled in size from 55 students to 120. She also helped bring the course “American Sign Language” back to the curriculum after a 20-year hiatus. That course now has more than 50 students vying for 15 spots, and the lab has been part of the driving force behind renewed interest.“Kate’s lab has been a very exciting addition to our departmental life, as it provides our students with the possibility of probing their theoretical models in new ways. It is the mix of theoretical and experimental sophistication that Kate impresses upon the activities of her lab that are particularly novel,” said Gennaro Chierchia, department chair and Haas Foundations Professor of Linguistics.,“Linguistics is very rigorous, and its approach is very scientific and logical and inquiry-oriented.” — Anna Alsoplast_img read more

Amityville Tarantula Abandoned, Taken to Santuary

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Sufffolk SPCA officers rescued this Tarantula in Amityville.Suffolk County SPCA officers have rescued a Tarantula that was abandoned in front of a house in Amityville this week.Amityville village police reported finding the female rose-haired Tarantula at a house on Grand Central Avenue.Suffolk SPCA officers responded and took the Tarantula to a wildlife sanctuary out of state.Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said in a news release that Tarantulas are not the best choice as a pet.Although all Tarantulas are venomous, few species have been claimed to cause human fatalities. If bitten, some people may suffer a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction, Gross said.Before biting, Tarantulas may signal their intention to attack by rearing up into a “threat posture” by spreading and extending their fangs, and—in certain species—making a loud hissing sound, he added.last_img read more

Sturridge heads to US for treatment

first_imgLiverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will continue his rehabilitation from a thigh injury in the United States over Christmas. Press Association The 25-year-old has not played for the Reds since August 31 after straining a thigh while training on international duty with England. On the eve of his club comeback he pulled a calf muscle in his first full training session back with the first team and just when he appeared to have got over that he sustained another, different, thigh injury which has ruled him out until the new year. Rodgers said last month the club may have to look even deeper into the root of Sturridge’s problems, of which this is the ninth separate but similar injury has had in his career. The player has suggested the issue may be hereditary as his father, a trainee at Birmingham, and two uncles Dean and Simon – both professional footballers – also suffered the same problems. While Sturridge remains on schedule to return in the new year, fellow striker Mario Balotelli is still trying to overcome the groin injury he sustained on international duty just over a month ago. The Italy forward made his comeback as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s defeat at Manchester United but has not travelled with the squad for Wednesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final at Bournemouth. Instead he has stayed behind to receive further treatment on the injury at the club’s Melwood training ground with a view to him being fit for Sunday’s visit of Arsenal. Defender Glen Johnson, who came off with a groin injury at Old Trafford, is likely to be out for about a month, meaning on-loan Javier Manquillo could be set for an extended run if manager Brendan Rodgers reverts to a flat back four having experimented with three centre-backs against United. center_img The England forward spent 10 days in Los Angeles to help with his recovery and he will now travel to the east coast to link up with the medical team at the Boston Red Sox, who share the same owners in Fenway Sports Group. Sturridge will be accompanied by Liverpool’s head of conditioning Glen Driscoll and Press Association Sport understands the club believe the Red Sox have specialists who may be able to assist in putting an end to the striker’s persistent thigh problem. last_img read more

Clayton Kershaw pitches five scoreless innings; Dodgers score in ninth to win

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “The first game was more of a kick start,” Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “This game was, ‘All right, we’re here. Let’s get it done.’”Kershaw retired the first nine Yankees in order, waited out a 12-minute rain delay before the bottom of the fourth and retired the side in order again. That was enough for visions of another difficult choice to start dancing in Dave Roberts’ head just four days after he pulled Rich Hill from a perfect game for big-picture precautionary reasons.“It did cross my mind,” the Dodgers manager said.The rain returned in the fifth inning and play was suspended for 48 minutes this time. Kershaw threw “a simulated inning” in the batting cages under the stands while the rain passed and then headed back out to the mound for the bottom of the fifth.His perfect game and no-hitter did not survive the delay. The Yankees’ first batter in the fifth, Starlin Castro, hit a hard one-hop grounder to third baseman Justin Turner’s backhand. The ball took a nasty hop and clipped Turner’s throwing hand on the way through to left field. NEW YORK >> Clayton Kershaw had control over his fastball, curveball and slider Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. He did not have control over the forces of nature.Kershaw endured two rain delays — one of only 12 minutes — to pitch five scoreless innings in his second start back from the DL. Four innings later, the Dodgers scored twice in the top of the ninth to take a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees.Coupled with another loss by the second-place San Francisco Giants, the win moved the Dodgers’ lead in the National League West back to five games and cut their magic number to clinch the division to 13.With a fourth consecutive division title now feeling inevitable, the more welcome news Wednesday for the Dodgers was the fact that Kershaw was more himself in his second start than he was in Miami on Friday, his first big-league start after spending 75 days on the DL with a herniated disc in his back.center_img That was surprisingly ruled an error but Chase Headley followed with a clean single.After a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, Kershaw regained his footing and struck out Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine to end the threat – and his day. Kershaw didn’t go back out for the sixth after throwing 64 pitches in his five scoreless innings. With the rain-delay inning added in, he threw about 80 pitches, the number the Dodgers had targeted for his second start.Next up for Kershaw will be the Giants and a matchup against their ace, Madison Bumgarner, on Monday. As strong as he looked in New York, Roberts is not quite ready to declare Kershaw fully back to normal.“No, I think we’re still, I don’t want to say in the woods, but I still think that it’s not full go with Clayton,” Roberts said. “I talked about it being sort of a rehab start in Miami, but as the usage, the intensity, the length of his starts ramps up I think we will see a better Clayton each time. The concern for his recovery I think will be a little less. But I think after the start, the intensity of today, the unforeseen circumstances, I’ll feel a lot better tomorrow when I talk to him.”Kershaw would have none of the ‘rehab mode’ talk.“I was obviously thankful to be back the first time but I wasn’t thinking about that,” he said. “Once you start pitching, you’re pitching. You’re trying to get guys out and if you’re not doing that effectively you need to look at it. So I did that.“Just a little better overall today. Maybe back on a normal routine, a normal four days almost – or whatever my normal is now. Maybe that helped a little bit, I don’t know.”Kershaw rated the outing “a little bit better than last time” but his pitch efficiency was significantly better and his breaking pitches, in particular, looked more like their lethal self.“Yeah, the secondary stuff looked sharper today and I think that’s probably one thing he was more frustrated with in Miami, the secondary stuff,” Turner said. “It looked like the Clayton Kershaw we all know tonight. So that’s a positive sign.”A relay of relievers kept the Yankees at bay, allowing just two more hits the rest of the way.The Dodgers’ offense finally put together the winning rally in the ninth – with the Yankees’ help.Corey Seager led off with a sinking liner at the feet of second baseman Starlin Castro. Castro botched it for an error and Seager stole second base. He scored when Turner sent a double down the third-base line.Two batters later, Turner scored when Yankees reliever Dellin Betances fielded an easy comebacker in front of the mound and tossed the ball over the head of his catcher and to the backstop. The runs (both unearned) were the Dodgers’ first since Monday, ending a string of 17 scoreless innings during which they managed just eight hits.last_img read more