Miles Davis: 60 Minutes - JazzWax

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March 30, 2012


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Yeah, I have seen this before. -- It's so odd that they are nearly always hiring interviewers who have no idea about music, or about the artist's career, and so, they mostly ask stupid questions; or they're trying to sensationalize everything by talking about things no one would really want to know.

There is a three-part interview with Dizzy Gillespie, done 'round 1983, which is likewise very much annoying.

The very same here: Instead of letting Dizzy just talk, the interviewer is always interrupting him with bitty-ditty questions about his cheeks, or with indiscrete questions on Dizzy's childless marriage, or other gossip-stuff.

Anyway, it's fascinating to notice how both greats are subtly making their interviewers looking like idiots.

Benny Goodman did the very same with George T. Simon: He impolitely started to practice the clarinet when he felt he had told enough.


P.S. -- There was another very embarrassing incident with Dizzy I've witnessed 'live' on German TV.

I'm talking about that in my blog:

"Ross Russell’s book is very subjective and filled with inaccuracies, as Dizzy stated himself in a German TV show, when he was asked about “Bird Lives” by Mr. George Gruntz, the famous Swiss jazz orchestra leader: “That book is full of lies! – It’s all lies in this book!” — He was obviously very angry.

He abruptly started to warm up a second later, and wasn’t available for any questions anymore. Hank Jones played the piano then, and yours truly had watched the whole show live (in real time!) on TV.

“Dizzy Gillespie in concert” — Moderation: George Gruntz — Stadthalle Leonberg, 1987″ — ZDF Jazz Club."

Doug Zielke

Well, Miles was being... Miles.
Just tune out Harry and dig the shots of the Malibu house.


I remember watching this when it aired...I couldn't believe the reclusive Miles was going to be interviewed on prime-time TV! Of course, it ended up being a pretty dumb interview....


I think you guys are reading too much into this interview. Reasoner was just asking questions that he thought would be interesting to the typical tv viewer, not just us jazz fanatics. Miles doesn't seem to be trying to put him down when he dismisses the "dumb" questions with a smile or laugh. He apparently spent some time showing Harry around the house and grounds and probably sat through a lot more dumb questions than made the broadcast. He was known to be a big boxing fan and probably just didn't want to miss the match.

Pamela Oberman

Interestring - just checking out Miles and his way groovy pad and his art - didn't pay much attention to Reasoner, after the first question


I never understood why CBS didn't give that gig to Ed Bradley, who was pretty damn knowledgeable about jazz, after all.

Rick M

The only thing you need to know about 60 minutes is this: They develop the story idea and narrative, then develop questions and set up scenarios to justify it and come to the predetermined conclusion.

They probably were hoping for a meltdown or walk-out that would make what's known as 'great television.' It was never about the music, just the personality.

I stopped watching that program when they tried to convince me that Audi cars drove away by themselves and tried to kill people. Ed Bradley was in on that one.

Jery Rowan

Way too much over-thinking going on here, people. Sorry, but that includes you as well, Marc. You're all fixating on a scenario that wasn't really there.

Miles was just being the Miles I'd seen so many times before -- caustic, irreverent and humorous. Reasoner was being the typical inquisitive face of 60 MInutes. Sure, Ed Bradley would have given a better 'jazz' interview, but that's not what the producers were after.

It WASN'T a plot to embarrass Miles or Reasoner. It was a fluff piece on a musician most of the general public had heard of and were simply -- if not musically -- just curious about.

As for 60 Minutes "...develop questions and set up scenarios to justify it and come to the predetermined conclusion." I can only say, WOW!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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