Editors note: Scott and I regularly connect and he’s a valued supporter and a senior writer for JazzInEurope. Scott is one of those people who recognizes that while Jazz is in constant change, its history should not be lost. Scott’s personal little black book of the Jazz who’s who is vast, as is his integrity and reputation. Just read Scott’s Bio at the end of this Jazz history nugget he shared with me and I asked him to share it with you.
The day was September 28, 1991. It was the day that jazz lost its living leader. Everything changed. I was an upcoming young journalist. Having worked in radio for more than 15 years already, I had interviewed just about everybody I wanted to. It is a very rewarding gift to be able to speak with those in the world you most respect.
On this particular day I had a scheduled phone interview with Chick Corea. I was excited, nervous and honored! Preparing for an interview is most important. A person can tell in a second if you know what you’re talking about…if you even listened to his music or know his history.
Chick and I hit it off. We spoke as friends. Both living and loving music. He played it. I wrote about it. The interview lasted about 45 minutes. A long phone chat. By the end of our conversation, we had become friends. Today that interview is in a box somewhere in a storage unit with so many other treasured conversations with the giants.
My brother Chris (a trumpet player) and I had gone to see Miles religiously at Avery Fisher Hall every year! Miles even did a sketch for me at the Saratoga Jazz Festival, signed it and everything! History. I met Miles once backstage at the Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams State Park. Or I walked passed him anyway…I humbly said ‘Hi Miles…” His response…an inaudible mumbling of profanities. Miles Davis just told me to F—k Off!! What an honor!!
Suddenly on the TV news I see a bulletin: Miles Davis Dead! I couldn’t believe it! I immediately called back Chick and asked him if he had heard the news. ‘What news?, his response. I was the one that had to break the news to him that Miles had died. We had just spoken of his recording on Bitches Brew and so much more. We were both speechless. In shock. Later that day, Chick sent me this very moving memory of the monumental Miles Davis.
Miles Davis died at age 65. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. Duke Ellington is nearby. Miles Davis birthday is May 26 and he would have been 92 this week.
About Scott H. Thompson
Thompson served as Assistant Director of Public Relations for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York for almost a decade. With a background in broadcast journalism, Thompson’s voice and work has been heard on the Associated Press Radio Network, the Mutual Broadcasting network and NBC-AM New York, on The Morning Show. His experience spans radio, television, print and the internet. Thompson co-produced the New Haven Jazz Festival from 1994-2000.
A prolific writer, Thompson has contributed to DownBeat, JazzTimes, Jazziz, JazzInEurope, and the All Music Guide. He penned the CD liner notes to Herbie Hancock Head Hunters, Weather Report 8:30, George Duke Brazilian Love Affair, Stan Getz The New Collection, The Essence of Maynard Ferguson, and The Essence of Al DiMeola.
Scott is one of the original members of
the Jazz Journalists Association.
Photo credits: Rainer Rygalyk (Feature image) Ernest Gregory (Scott & Chick Corea) - and (c) info: all rights go to original recording artist/owner/photographer(s).