Miles Davis and more jazz concerts

What do you think of in 2022 when you see the name Miles Davis? The innovator? The iconoclast? The accomplished trumpeter?

The folks at Sony have been relatively quiet in recent years when it comes to maintaining the legacy of the late Davis, but they’ve put together a new collection of takes, vault finds, and a live concert that make up “That’s What Happened 1982-1985: The Bootleg Series Vol. 7,” released September 16.

Davis’ return to the 1980s after several years of self-isolation was somewhat controversial, odd as it may seem decades later. After a long period of being known for his creative boldness in the field of jazz, Davis seems to be committed to following current trends instead of creating them. Perhaps that’s why we’re discussing ‘Kind Of Blue’, ‘Bitches Brew’ and the influential albums surrounding those references instead of, say, 1985’s ‘You’re Under Arrest’, which features Davis wearing a gun on the cover and containing music which, while pleasant enough, did not live up to the standards of the trumpeter from the 50s to the 70s.

Over the course of three and a half hours, “That’s what happened,” wants us to reassess Davis of that time, or maybe dig in for the first time. There’s plenty of material that’s nice to hear once or twice, like the multiple takes of “Celestial Blues” and “Hopscotch,” but there’s also a handful of guardians that a Davis enthusiast will appreciate.

Davis rings particularly loud during the 1983 live gig that makes up the third disc, and one can’t help but wonder why the excellent 13-minute track “Santana” has been gathering dust for nearly four decades. There are other fascinating finds, like the 1985 “Katia” expansion, featuring guitarist John McLaughlin. Speaking of guitarists, aside from Davis’ trumpet, the standout performers here are future stars John Scofield and Mike Stern, who really help propel their frontman to inspirational heights reminiscent of his former glories.

While never incendiary – like the music from earlier volumes in Davis’ “Bootleg” series – “That’s What Happened” is still enjoyable. And when it comes to unearthing more of Miles’ legacy, that’s more than enough.

Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander will perform at Dazzle Jazz on September 27 and 28. (Jean-Christophe Bott, AP/Keystone)

Jazz of note in the Denver area this month: Before Dazzle moved from downtown Baur to the DCPA later this year, his team hosted numerous live performances, including singer Nicole Henry September 9; bewitching pianist Monty Alexander September 27 and 28; a series of comeback concerts for the saxophonist javon jackson (with piano legend George Cables) Sept. 30 and Oct. 1; and exploratory trumpeter from Colorado Hugh Ragin’s Creative Set the 3rd of October. I’ve come to love the location of the Baur, but can’t wait to see what will take shape in the new Dazzle digs. … elevation Renaissance marching band appears at the Levitt Pavilion in Denver with a free show on September 8. … The quartet Three Car Garage plays Other Side by Cervantes on September 8 and 9 and the Fox Theater in Boulder on September 10. Saxophonist Jackiem Joyner is scheduled for the Soiled Dove Underground on September 16th. …drummer and jazz fusion hero Billy Cobham and his Crosswinds Project take the stage at the Gothic Theater on September 24. … Seun Kuti (yes, son of Fela) brings his Strip Egypt 80 at the Fox Theater on September 27. … The exemplary guitarist Julien Lage appears at the Boulder Theater on October 1. … and the John Gunther Quartet performs “Monk, Mingus and More” from Friday to September at Nocturne.

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Willie J. Johnson