The Miles Electric Band
At the end of the 1960s and into the ’70s, Miles Davis plugged in and went electric, shocking critics and the jazz establishment. The Miles Electric Band is an eleven-member combo of world-class talents performing the boundary-shattering music from that era, a fertile creative period that found “Electric Miles” “plugged in to the zeitgeist,” trading in his “suits for hipster finery,” and opening “up his music to distortion and groove-based repetition, either transcending or dramatically repudiating (depending on your perspective) his roots in acoustic jazz,” writes James Parker in The Atlantic.
Drawing from the progressive, avant-garde-leaning streak that saw Davis creating vibrant, challenging work on LPs like In a Silent Way, Jack Johnson, and Bitches Brew, the Miles Electric Band features Davis alums John Beasley and Robert Irving III on piano and keys, Badal Roy on tabla, guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, and drummer Vince Wilburn Jr., Davis’ nephew. Individually, these players share among them a host of Grammy Awards, and have played with a wide variety of outfits, including Santana, Freddie Washington, Grover Washington, Jr., George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many more.
Rounding out the combo are bassist Darryl Jones, best known for his playing with Sting and decades-long appointment as touring bassist for the Rolling Stones; percussionist Mino Cinelu, known for collaborations with Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, and Miles Davis himself; saxophonist Antoine Roney, who’s worked with Freddie Hubbard and Elvin Jones; and turntablist DJ Logic, who brings many of the experimental electronic touches to the Miles Electric Band that he’s brought to projects with Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Mos Def, The Roots, John Mayer, and remix productions featuring the music of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Davis’ iconic trumpet duties are handled by a rotating cast of players, including Grammy-winning trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Wallace Roney, with more players set to join in the future.
Since forming in 2011, the band has been met with rapturous praise from critics and festival-goers. Writing about their inaugural performance at the Miles Davis Festival in Chicago, DownBeat magazine stated, “Despite boasting a host of bandleaders in the ranks, the group played with restraint and vibe over histrionics, keeping the brew on simmer.”
Having performed to great acclaim all around the globe, the Miles Electric Band stands alongside projects like the 2015 film Miles Ahead, starring and directed by Don Cheadle, as part of the Davis estate’s dedication to expanding and preserving the trumpeter’s artistic triumphs. The band’s show features archival photos and art work from Davis’ innovative electric period, imbuing this music with the vitality that Davis would have demanded.