Big time name dropping #10 / Yamaha DX7
Though remembering that time is not the number one aim for me right now really, there are things you have control over in your life and some you don’t. Being wise means knowing the difference. Or expressed differently, those who remember the 80’s have not been there. A sure thing though, they have not been to the press gallery of the Casino, because there was so much things going on in there, or shall I say going up, that the 20 year old me was on severe autopilot for the entire 15 days of the event while on duty for a live national broadcaster. Material did a beautiful show there, the band of Bill Laswell, the dude about to become incredibly rich and famous for soon doing Future Shock major instrumental hit with Herbie Hancock. Material in Montreux were earth shattering in their own right with a track, Don’t Lose Control (!), so much invading my young all open and seriously shaken neurons that I can still play it right now from the top of my head, just by having witnessed that event as a broadcaster duly accredited spectator. While another New-Yorker, just out from a 5 year hiatus locked up in his NY Upper West Side basement, wholeheartedly gave the most incredibly amazing concert, at least to a 20 year old local dude. Miles Davis, along with a band probably featuring John Scolfield, Mino Cinelu and Darryl Jones gave us music that was flying way fucking higher than mere jazz or pop or experimental or anything earthly in fact, dunno if this was just me being amazed, but along with his trumpet he had an Oberheim OB-Xa synth, the one with blue stripes on black background, as well as a Yamaha DX7 that I knew intimately for messing up daily with the one from our own keyboard player. And right in between an heavenly texture so beautiful that I can barely call it music, Miles perhaps played 3 trumpets pad notes then ALL of the DX7 127 presets, one by one, hitting the same single note on the keyboard, starting with Factory ROM Bank 2 performance data, Motorcycle and finishing with Factory original internal / ROM Bank 4 voice data 01, Mellowhorn. It was simultaneously modern, inspired, grounded in the time technologically, adequate, widely musical, experimental, timeless and incredibly groovy. While he could have had all blown us with an incredibly fast and technically accurate demonstration of virtuosity, he chose to do just that keyboard “solo” instead and that was sheer utter perfection. He also communicated with his musicians with large handwritten instructions banners that he would show whenever appropriate to steer the band’s improvised effort towards wherever felt right. This alone was an amazing lesson and experience for this younger me painstakingly practising guitar scales in a dogmatic jazz school grounded in the 50’s and still trying to ingest bebop, right in the middle of a post punk era… Fifty something Miles Davis was teaching a music lesson masterclass right there in real time right for my all fired-up fuelled-up teenage brain. And Wynton Marsalis thought this was the right moment to comment about Miles not “doing jazz” in the press somewhere, in a very Spinal Tap moment… On the same note I like the bit were Miles ruffled John Scolfield’s feathers after a show because the soon to become guitar legend dude abruptly came in with a solo on the grounds that
“it sounded so good he had to play” and Miles replied that it sounded good precisely because he was not!
I am not even sure I actually returned at all to the finger snapping / fast playing competition school next fall, after that summer.
I am pretty sure the party kept going for years throughout the 80’s though. I at least made sure it did…
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