No More, Please

Got a press release from an ensemble I’m not going to name, announcing their new “reconceptualization” of Sketches of Spain. Why?

The release quotes an established critic, who I also will not name, saying: “One has to think that Miles Davis would have been intrigued, given his own history of ignoring rules and continuously reinventing his music.”

One has to think that this is exactly wrong to an almost breathtaking degree. Miles consistently and famously—this is what pissed off listeners and critics throughout his entire career—left behind old music to make new music. He stopped playing bebop and then cool music and then hard bop because they all became established, slightly reactionary styles. If everyone was doing something, Miles was going to do something else, and he also constantly refused to revisit the Gil Evans scores in this kind of retrospective, museum set-piece way.

I heard one abominable Sketches of Spain recreation a few years ago, and I’m going to try and wipe my knowledge of this new one from my memory.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.