The beautiful brownstone at 312 W. 77, birthplace of “Bitches Brew” was once again brought alive with an “Essence of Miles” in the air. The Historic Landmarks Preservation Center headed by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel organized the dedication of the brownstone once owned by Miles Davis with all hands on deck. Old friends and family were present to speak at the event. Author-Biographer Quincy Troupe opened reading excerpts from his works describing Miles. Next up was composer, arranger son of Jimmy Heath, Mtume who spoke on his experiences with the “genius”. Others who followed were Lee Konitz, Gary Bartz, Wallace Rooney, Phil Schaap, George Coleman and Miles’ nephew from Los Angeles drummer Vince Wilburn. Although they did not speak also present were Noah Evans son of arranger Gil Evans, Juini Booth former bass man for Thelonious Monk and SunRa and Sandra Trim-DaCosta (former Director of Marketing, Columbia Records/SONY Music) worked closely with Miles for several years,after being assigned by the late legendary music industry executive Dr. George Butler (former Sr. Vice.President, A&R, Columbia Records) to develop the overall marketing campaign for Miles and his recordings for the label.. Dr. Butler played a significant role in the jazz icon’s return to the music scene and we are forever grateful to him for his tenacity and vision for Miles.
Of course music filled the air and that was provided by Wallace Rooney on trumpet, Gary Bartz on alto sax and Monty Alexander on keys with their swinging version of Miles’ infamous “If I Were A Bell” a tune often used on the seventies hit NBC The Cosby Show whenever the doorbell was written into the script. The trio was backed by the Advanced Jazz Combo at Harlem School of the Arts a brilliant young quartet with Matthew Whitaker on keys, Frank Rankin on guitar, Dominic Gervais on drums and Oren Maximov on bass under the directorship of D.D. Jackson. Judith Insell is the Director of Music at the school for which an elegant set was provided by these young men prior to the event. The only thing that could have been better than this event is that it could have happened on May 26 which is Miles’ birthday. But why wait, the weather was great. All involved made it happened and those present knew that contrary to popular belief on this day… “Miles Smiles”.