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Miles Davis at Pershing Ballroom, Chicago 1948

I asked Dizzy, "Why can't I play high like you?"

"Because you can't hear up there", he said.

"You hear in the middle register".

And that's true.

There are times when I can't even tell what chords Dizzy is working on when he's up high; and yet he told me what he's playing is just an octave above what I do.

Miles learned this and he started to use high register on trumpet with great control and clarity. How? Simply doing the same things on the upper octave, as Dizzy told him.

We find a first feedback on a 1948 audience recording, with a Big Band, presumably under Dizzy Gillespie's musical direction.

The tune we'll focus on is Good Bait, by Tadd Dameron. Structure is A-A-B-A with eight bars sections. A sections are in Bb major, B is a fourth up, in Eb major.

Here is theme's A section: and here's the bridge improvised on the same chord progression, a fourth up: .

Miles plays two entire choruses. Audio quality is not very good, but it's worth listening carefully to what he plays.

Here is first chorus with high register on last A section, and here is second one played in very high register.

First of all let's listen the modulation to the bridge, from first chorus and compare it with the same passage on second chorus : modulation phrase on the high register is very similar to that on medium, and even first phrase on Eb major is.

Miles is just playing an octave above what he has just played on medium register.

And this two high register phrases resolvin on Bbmaj are very similar, in their first part, to a trasposition of this phrase from first chorus .

More, listen to these phrases on Bbmaj : they sound very similar.

And in the second phrase we may listen to a fragment in the high register which occurs soon after in the medium .

By the way, this is Miles playing. Compare with this fragment from February 19, 1949 at the Royal Roost, where Miles plays the same phrase, but on medium register.

Not much different from what he plays on Bb blues Big Foot, aka Drifting On A Reed, on December 11, 1948 at the Royal Roost, with Charlie Parker quintet.

And in Paris, at the International Jazz Festival, in May 1949 again he plays the same phrase on medium register, and in the high register too .

And back to The Hymn, recorded for Dial on October 27, 1947, here is Miles starting his solo on first take and on second one .

This is a very fast tempo, and so eights-notes on The Hymn sound like sixteens-notes on Good Bait.

List of referenced discography:

- Tadd Dameron Big Ten And Royal Roost Jam

- The Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet In Paris Festival International De Jazz, May, 1949

- Bird's Eyes: Last Unissued, Vol. 1/4

- Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy & Dial Sessions

- Charlie Parker: Complete Live Performances On Savoy


Complete transcriptions of referenced Miles Davis solos are available on themusicofmiles



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