The jazz troupe Four Generations of Miles — as in Miles Davis — began six years ago to play an annual concert at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. But this year, the current incarnation of the group is sworn to become a more active concern.
“Every year when we get together for the Iridium gig (during) the week of Christmas, we all enjoy it so much,” says bassist Charles “Buster” Williams. “We’re always saying, ‘Man, why do we just do this one annual gig? Let’s start working!’
“So what happened this time is we did the Iridium and we really decided to follow it up. So our agent said, ‘OK, listen, if you guys really want to do that, then I’ll start booking.’ So this weekend (at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall) is the first gig of our new band — our new working band.”
This incarnation of Four Generations features Williams, drummer Jimmy Cobb and trumpeter Wallace Roney, with saxophonist Sonny Fortune sitting in for guitarist Mike Stern, a regular member of the group. As the name indicates, the four musicians come from different periods in the late Davis’ legendary history, but Williams says they all ultimately come from the same musical place.
“The thing about this music is the vocabulary is so intricate and so profound,” explains Williams, 68, who played with Davis during 1967-68. “It doesn’t change according to era. If anything, as we progress through the years the vocabulary may become more sophisticated, but nothing unites four, five, six or 20 or 100 musicians together more than this genre we call jazz ... especially when you’re playing the music of somebody who created their own school, like Miles did.”
Four Generations of Miles performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, at Orchestra Hall in the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $19-58. Call 313-576-5111 or visit www.detroitsymphony.com.
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