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A Jazz Generation and the Miles Davis Curse Summary

I personally found Peter Watrous article on Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, and the fusion idiom to be very dated. It was written almost twenty years ago, and much has changed in the lives and music of many of the musicians mentioned in his article. He begins by expressing his disappointment in one of Wayne Shorters more recent releases at the time. Watrous felt that Shorter had wasted some of his talent and was headed in a more commercial direction. I feel that after seeing Wayne Shorter live in Symphony Hall not long ago, I couldnt disagree more with that notion. I think that Wayne Shorter and his contemporaries truly explore every style of music without hesitation or regret and I dont think that pop or commercial music is outside of their comfort zone. Watrous goes on to talk about the jazz fusion idiom which was developed largely by Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and many other notable sidemen of Miles. He then compares the music of Miles Davis, rock music, free/avant garde jazz, and pop music. I think that Watrous underestimates the depth of the music and musicians that he critiques and for me personally I find the music of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock , and Josef Zawinul (to name a few) to be extremely profound and stimulating and I dont think that their music stopped progressing.

I think what Watrous called the Miles Davis curse was a misinterpreted desire to break out of ones musical shell. What he called a musician commercializing or heading towards pop I think of as the musicians trying to do something to expand out of their old caricature. Looking back I think that Miles and his disciples were always looking into the future as to where music is headed and trying to stay ahead of the curve instead of becoming repetitive or sounding like the way they used to play.