“Play Like You Don’t Know How”

“… Play like you don’t know how to play guitar.”

That’s the instruction that John McLaughlin recalls Miles Davis giving him. It was on the occasion of his being pressed precipitately into service to collaborate in Davis’s milestone album “Bitches Brew” recorded in August 1969.

“I just closed the score and started playing: no rhythm, no harmony, just playing the melody and casting my fate to the wind. He loved it… He would hit a couple of chords on the piano and say: ‘What do you hear? Do you hear a riff? A bass line?’

(Jim Farber, “‘It sounded like the future’: behind Miles Davis’s greatest album,” theguardian.com, 2-24-20)

Jim Farber’s article gives a taste of the bracing environment surrounding Davis’s project and of his interactions with fellow musicians. (I can say, ruefully, that I would be able to comply quite well with Mr. Davis’s instruction, but not as happily as John McLaughlin.)

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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