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Check out this month's celebrity pick - Viola Davis
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: viola davis celebrity pick word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Viola Davis has earned raves for such films as Doubt and The Help, and for such Broadway plays as King Hedley II and Fences.

Born in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in Rhode Island, where she began acting—first in high school, and then at Rhode Island College. After attending the Juilliard School of Performing Arts, Davis soon made her Broadway debut in 1996. She won her first Tony Award in 2001, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for Doubt. In 2011, Davis starred in the hit dramatic film The Help. She has also appeared in Ender's Game (2013) and Get on Up (2014). In 2014, Davis returned to television in the mystery series How to Get Away with Murder.

Growing up poor in Rhode Island, Viola Davis found an oasis from her family's financial woes in watching movies. Her father worked at racetracks, often as a horse groomer. She discovered a love of acting early in high school. At Rhode Island College, Davis earned her degree in theater in 1988. From there, she soon continued her studies at the famed Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York City.

Before long, Davis began to establish a name for herself in the New York theater world. She made her Broadway debut in August Wilson's tragic comedy Seven Guitars in 1996. In the play, Davis starred as Vera, a woman who takes back the boyfriend who wronged her. She again worked with Wilson on his 2001 drama King Hedley II, for which she won her first Tony Award.

On the small screen, Davis tried her hand at series television with the medical drama City of Angeles, in 2000. She also made several guest appearances on other shows as well; one of her most notable performances was as a serial killer on Law & Order. It is one of her favorite roles, despite some negative reactions in the African-American community. "I've had backlash playing a serial killer ... Anthony Hopkins didn't, but I did. I have to follow my heart at the end of the day," she later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

After a few feature film parts, Davis caught the attention of critics with her small role in 2002's Antwone Fisher. She made the most out of her one scene in the film, in which she barely speaks. Her turn as the mother of a troubled navy sailor (Derek Luke) brought her critical praise and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

In 2008, Davis' career reached new heights with her nuanced performance in Doubt. She, once again, made a tremendous impression with a small supporting role, and showed she could hold her own against some of Hollywood's greatest talents. In the film, Davis played the mother of a boy who may have been sexually assaulted by a priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) at his Catholic school. She delivered an especially strong performance, as her character clashes with the school's principal (Meryl Streep) over her son and the alleged crime. For her work, Davis received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Returning to the stage, Davis gave another show-stopping performance in Fences in 2010. She co-starred with Denzel Washington in this revival of the August Wilson play, playing the wife in a long-married couple whose relationship is falling apart. The pair had great chemistry together, creating a believable and compelling portrait of a struggling marriage undone by infidelity. Both Davis and Washington won Tony Awards for their work on the production.

In 2011, Davis co-starred with Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard in the film adaptation of the best-selling book The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This 1960s drama shows the racial divide between white housewives and their African-American servants in a Southern town.

In the film, Davis plays Ailbileen, a maid who is interviewed by a young white writer named Skeeter -for a book about the lives of "the help." The experiences of her character are familiar to Davis. "The women in this story were like my mother, my grandmother," she explained to Variety. "Women born and raised in the Deep South, working in tobacco and cotton fields, taking care of their kids and other people's kids, cleaning homes."

Davis worked with the director and screenwriter Tate Taylor to refine her character, making sure that her responses and actions were believable. Because racial tensions were so high during the time that the film is set in, she believed her character would have been afraid of saying too much to anyone. Davis played Aibileen with great restraint and won extensive praise for her work on the film.

As an African-American actress, Davis continues to look for more meaningful roles and perhaps start up some projects of her own. "It is a time when Black women now have no choice but to take matters in their own hands and create images for ourselves ... It's up to us to look for the material, it's up to us to produce it ourselves, it's up to us to choose the stories."

Over the next few years, Davis took on some interesting parts. She appeared in the 2013 science fiction movie Ender's Game and played singer James Brown's mother in the 2014 biopic Get on Up. Davis then tackled an important television role. She stars in How to Get Away with Murder as Professor Annalise Keating. The mystery drama series is the brainchild of Shonda Rhimes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal fame. 

Source: Biography.com

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: black men rock benjamin davis jr word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. is remembered for many things: Being the first Black Air Force General, leading the Tuskegee Airmen flight squadron and standing up to the military establishment in advancing the cause of Black soldiers.

More than that, he is a symbol of the ability of a Black man to persevere through obstacles on the path towards excellence.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was born in Washington. D.C.  on December 18, 1912, the son of Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Elnora Dickerson Davis. His father was a renowned military officer, the first Black General in the United States Army. Benjamin, Sr. served in various capacities (beginning in the Spanish-American war) including serving in one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments. Unfortunately, Elnora died from complications from childbirth in 1916 when Benjamin, Jr. was four years old.

When Benjamin, Jr. (hereinafter just Davis) was 13 years old, he attended a barnstorming exhibition at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. (now Bolling Air Force base). One of the pilots offered him the opportunity to accompany him on a ride in his plane. Benjamin enjoyed it so much that he became determined to pilot a plane himself one day.

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

With his father moving around in his military duties, he attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1929. He enrolled Western Reserve University  (1929-1930) and later moved on to the University of Chicago (1930-1932). Still desiring to serve as a military pilot he contacted Illinois Representative Oscar De Priest (the first Black alderman in Chicago, and at the time, the only Black serving in Congress). De Priest sponsored him for a spot in the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. His time in the Academy was harsh, hostile and relentless in the challenges and obstacles it put in his way. Throughout his four years, none of his classmates would speak to him outside the line of duty. None would be his roommate and none would sit with him to eat. Nonetheless, he graduated in 1936, finishing 35th in his class of 278. When he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the infantry he became one of only two Black combat officers in the United States Army – the other being his father Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.

"The courage, tenacity, and intelligence with which he conquered a problem incomparably more difficult than plebe year won for him the sincere admiration of his classmates, and his single-minded determination to continue in his chosen career cannot fail to inspire respect wherever fortune may lead him."

Howitzer, the 1936 West Point yearbook

Upon graduation, he married Agatha Scot, a young lady whom he had dated while attending the Academy.

Because of his high standing in his graduating class, Davis should have had his choice of assignments, but when he opted to apply for the Army Air Corps he was denied because the Air Corps did not have a Black squadron. He was instead assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, an all-Black division located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Although an officer, he was not permitted to enter the officers club on the base. After attending the U.S. Army Infantry School, he followed in his father’s footsteps and traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama to teach a military tactics course at the Tuskegee Institute. On June 19, 1939 he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and subsequently up to Captain, Major and then temporarily to Lieutenant Colonel (a rank he would hold permanently in June 1948).

Despite the prestige of being an instructor, Davis still wanted to fly. Fortunately, others had the same desire and pressure was mounted on the Roosevelt administration to allow for greater participation by Blacks as the country was moving towards war. The administration, therefore, directed the War Department to create a Black flying unit. To his delight, Davis was assigned to undergo training in the first class at the Tuskegee Army Air Field. In 1942 he finished his training and was one of only five Blacks to complete the course and then became the first Black Officer to make a solo flight in an Army Air Corps plane. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and in July 1942 he was assigned as the commander of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, known by history as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1943, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was assigned first to Tunisia, then to a combat mission in the German-held Island of Pantelleria and finally took part in the allied invasion of Sicily. In September, Davis was recalled to to Tuskegee to take over a larger all-black unit preparing for combat in Europe, the 332nd Fighter Group.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and Edward Gleed

Almost immediately, however, problems arose for Davis.  A number of Senior Army Air Corps officers complained to Army Chief of Staff George Marshall that the 99th Fighter Squadron had under-performed and should thereafter be taken out of combat. Major General Edwin House, Commander of the XII Air Support Command wrote in September 1943 that “the Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” A furious Davis argued that no information had been presented to him that showed anything to suggest that the Black fighter pilots had performed unsatisfactorily. He presented his case to the War Department and held a press conference at the Pentagon. General Marshall did call for an inquiry but allowed the 99th Squadron to continue to fight while the investigation continued. When the results of the inquiry came back, the 99th Squadron was vindicated and found to have performed similarly to other fighter squadrons. Any continuing arguments ceased in January 1944 when the 99th shot down 12 German fighters in a two day period.

Soon thereafter Colonel Davis and the 332nd Fighter Group arrived in Italy where they were based at Ramitelli Airfield. The 332nd, called the Red Tails because of the distinctive paint scheme on the tails of their planes, performed well as bomber escorts, often being requested by bomber pilots because of their insistence on not abandoning the bombers. The group would eventually move into the use of state of the art P-47 Thunderbolts.

Davis participated in numerous missions, flying in P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He was awarded the Silver Star for a mission in Austria and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a bomber-escort mission to Munich, Germany in June, 1944.

In 1945, Colonel Davis was placed in charge of  477th Bombardment Group, the group being comprised entirely of Blacks, stationed at Godman Field in Kentucky.

After the end of World War II, the new President Harry Truman dispatched an order to fully integrate the military branches. Colonel Davis was called upon to help draft the new “Air Force” plan for carrying out this order. For the next few years he was assigned to the Pentagon and to posts overseas. When the Korean War broke out, he once again participated in the fighting, manning a  F-86 fighter jet and leading the  51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing.

In the summer of 1949, Davis was assigned to attend the Air War College. He was the first Black permitted to attend the college and it was significant because further promotion was dependent upon successful graduation. Despite dealing with the racial climate in place in Montgomery, Alabama, where the war college took place, he persevered and excelled and upon graduation received an assignment to serve at the United States Air Force Headwaters at the Pentagon.

He next served as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo and then was assigned the position of Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, a rank not made permanent until after his temporary promotion to Major General. His assignments around the world became almost too numerous to list but included:

  • Assigned command of the 477th Composite Group at Godman Field, Kentucky
  • Assigned command of Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio
  • Assigned command of of the 332nd Fighter Wing.
  • Named Chief of the Air Defense Branch of Air Force operations
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • Assigned command of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Far East Air Forces, Korea.
  • Named as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo
  • Named Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force, with additional duty as commander, Air Task Force 13 (Provisional), Taipei, Formosa.
  • Named Chief of Staff, Twelfth Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europeat Ramstein, Germany.
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany.
  • Named Director of Manpower and Organization, United States and Headquarters U.S. Air Force and Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements.
  • Named Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Requirements.
  • Assigned as Chief of Staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in Korea.
  • Assigned command of the Thirteenth Air Force at Clark Air Base in the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Named Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Strike Command, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Named Commander in Chief, Middle-East, Southern Asia and Africa.

President Bill Clinton pinning the four-star insignia on General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. - Great Black Heroes

President Bill Clinton pinning the four-star insignia on General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in May 1960 and to Major General in January 1962. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in April 1965 and retired from active duty on February 1, 1970 after more than 33 years of military service. Finally, on December 9, 1998, President Bill Clinton decorated him with a four-star insignia, advancing him to the rank of General, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

He did not slow down upon his retirement, instead moving on to other ways to serve. I 1970 he was put in charge of the Federal Sky Marshall Program and in 1971 was named Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Environment, Safety, and Consumer Affairs. In this role, he oversaw the creation and implementation of airport security and highway safety programs and procedures (this included the establishment of the 55 mile per hour speed limit to improve gas efficiency and to promote driver safety). After retiring from the Department of Transportation in 1975, he followed in his father’s footsteps again by serving on the American Battle Monuments Commission. Finally, in 1991 Davis wrote his memoirs, relating his challenges and achievements over the years in his book Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American.

General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. passed away on July 4, 2002 and was buried with full military honors on July 17, 2002 at Arlington National Cemetery (his wife Agatha had died earlier in the year). In addition to the honor of being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Davis received many accolades over the years included having a number of schools named after him. His military decorations include:

 

    Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

    Army Distinguished Service Medal

    Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters

    Philippine Legion of Honor

    Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters

    Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters

    Silver Star

    Distinguished Flying Cross

 

Whether it was in the skies or the classroom, whether training pilots or advising presidents, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. led of life of professionalism, dignity and achievement, never allowing racism and other obstacles to slow him down. In doing so, he opened avenues within the military for generations of soldiers and pilots who followed in his enormous footsteps.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. - Great Black Heroes

"General Davis is here today as living proof that a person can overcome adversity and discrimination, achieve great things, turn skeptics into believers; and through example and perseverance, one person can bring truly extraordinary change"

— President Bill Clinton

Source: Great Black Heros

 

Jazz Legend - Miles Davis
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: jazz legend miles davis voices word life production new quality entertainment feature blog

What is cool?  At its very essence, cool is all about what’s happening next.  In popular culture, what’s happening next is a kaleidoscope encompassing past, present and future: that which is about to happen may be cool, and that which happened in the distant past may also be cool.  This timeless quality, when it applies to music, allows minimalist debate – with few exceptions, that which has been cool will always be cool.

            For nearly six decades, Miles Davis has embodied all that is cool – in his music (and most especially jazz), in his art, fashion, romance, and in his international, if not intergalactic, presence that looms strong as ever today.  2006 – The year in which Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 13th – is a land­mark year, commemorating the 80th anniversary of his birth on May 26, 1926, and the 15th anniversary of his death on September 28, 1991.  In between those two markers is more than a half-century of brilliance – often exasperating, brutally honest with himself and to others, uncompromising in a way that transcended mere intuition. 

            In carrying out what always seemed like a mission, Miles Dewey Davis III – musician, composer, arranger, producer, and band leader – was always in the right place at the right time, another defining aspect of cool.  Born in Alton, Illinois, and raised in East St. Louis, where his father was a dentist, Miles was given his first trumpet at age 13.  A child prodigy, his mastery of the instrument accelerated as he came under the spell of older jazzmen Clark Terry, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and others who passed through.  He accepted admission to the Juilliard School in 1944, but it was a ruse to get to New York and hook up with Bird and Diz.  Miles was 18.  Cool.

            Within a year, he accomplished his goal.  He can be heard on sessions led by Parker that were released on Savoy in 1945 (with Max Roach), ’46 (with Bud Powell), ’47 (with Duke Jordan and J.J. Johnson), and ’48 (with John Lewis).  In 1947, the Miles Davis All-Stars (with Bird, Roach, Lewis, and Nelson Boyd) debuted on Savoy.  His years on 52nd Street during the last half of the 1940s brought him into the bop orbit of musicians whose legends he would share before he was 25 years old. 

            At the turn of the decade into 1950, as Miles led his first small groups, an asso­ci­a­tion with Gerry Mulligan and arranger Gil Evans ushered in The Birth of the Cool (Capitol), a movement that challenged the dominance of bebop and hard-bop.  Miles’ subsequent record dates as leader in the early ’50s (on Blue Note, then Prestige) helped introduce Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Horace Silver, and Percy Heath, among many others, establishing Miles’ role as the premier jazz talent scout for the rest of his career. 

            An historic set at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955 resulted in George Avakian signing Miles to Columbia Records, and led to the form­a­tion of his so-called “first great quintet,” featuring John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones (the ’Round About Midnight sessions).  Miles’ 30 years at Columbia was one of the longest exclusive signings in the history of jazz, and one that spanned at least a half-dozen distinct generations of changes in the music – virtually all of which were anticipated or led by Miles or his former sidemen.

           

 

Over the course of those 30 years, service with Miles became an imprimatur for the Who’s Who of jazzmen.  Kind Of Blue, undisputedly the coolest jazz album ever recorded, was done in 1959 with the second edition of Miles’ “first great quintet” – principally Coltrane, Chambers, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, and Jimmy Cobb – who stayed together until 1961. 

            After several intermediate groups (which featured such giants as Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Victor Feldman, and George Coleman), Miles’ “second great quintet” slowly coalesced over 1963-64, into the lineup of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams (who was 17 years old when he joined Miles).  They recorded with producer Teo Macero and toured around the world together until 1968, achieving artistic and commercial success that was unprecedented in modern jazz. 

            1968 was a cataclysmic year of sea change for Miles and for America, a year of upheaval – the escalation of the war in southeast Asia, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and the rise of the Black Power movement were among the factors that pushed Miles’ music toward a more insistent electric (amplified) pulse.  At the same time, Miles dug the triple-whammy he heard in the music of James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone.  What began in 1968 with Miles’ quintet quietly adopting electric piano and guitar, blew up into a full-scale rock band sound on 1969’s breakthrough double-LP @!$%#es Brew (which landed him on the cover of Rolling Stone, the first jazzman to appear on the magazine’s front-page.  Very cool.)

            At the core of Bitches Brew, whose sessions took place the week after the Woodstock festival in August 1969, there was the final small group known as the “third great quintet” – Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette – augmented by John McLaughlin, Larry Young, Joe Zawinul, Bennie Maupin, Steve Grossman, Billy Cobham, Lenny White, Don Alias, Airto Moreira, Harvey Brooks, and former quintet members Hancock and Carter. 

            Six months later in February 1970, Miles kicked off the Jack Johnson sessions, shuffling many of those same players over the next two months, plus Sonny Sharrock, Steve Grossman, Michael Henderson, Keith Jarrett and others.  In no uncertain terms, the jazz-rock fusion movement had been launched full-tilt, and the spirit of Miles permeated the three dominant bands who rocked the stages (as he did) of the Fillmores East and West (et alia) through the ’70s and beyond – Weather Report, Return To Forever, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

            His freewheeling lifestyle and high-energy forays into funk and R&B grooves somehow dovetailed with a period of declining health in the early ’70s, until Miles finally went underground in 1975, after playing (what turned out to be) his final gig at New York’s Central Park Music Festival that summer.  A series of live LPs (domestic and imported from Japan) and other archival releases from the ’50s and ’60s were made available over the next five years to fill the void. 

            Into the ’80s, Miles’ reputation as talent scout extraordinaire went unquestioned.  He surfaced stronger than ever in 1981 on The Man With the Horn with a top-tier lineup of young players – Mike Stern, Marcus Miller, Bill Evans (no relation), Al Foster, and Mino Cinelu (all of whom went on to success­ful careers).  It was Miles’ first LP to skirt the Billboard album chart’s Top 50 since Bitches Brew, and the band was recorded live for the follow-up double-LP, 1982’s We Want Miles.  They remained stable (abetted by John Scofield) in 1983 on Star People.  The lineup then morphed on 1984’s Decoy, as Miller was replaced by Daryll ‘Munch’ Jones, Robert Irving III was added on synthe­siz­ers and programming, and Branford Marsalis shared saxophone parts with Evans. 

            Miles’ final album for Columbia Records was released in 1985, the cryptically titled You’re Under Arrest.  It (re)-introduced Miles’ nephew Vince Wilburn into the lineup (he played briefly on The Man With the Horn), as Bob Berg took over the big chair from Evans and Marsalis.  The album debuted two ballads that would be staples of Miles’ performances for the rest of his career, Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” 

            The following year, Miles began recording for Warner Bros., a prolific period that yielded one new album every year (the first four co-produced with Marcus Miller): Tutu (1986), Music From Siesta (1987, a film soundtrack collabora­tion with Miller), Live Around the World (1988), Amandla (1989), Dingo (1990, an orchestral collabora­tion with Michel Legrand), and his final studio album. the hip-hop informed Doo-Bop (1991), whose title tune gave Miles a posthumous Rap/R&B hit single in 1992.

            “Miles Dewey Davis III – trumpeter, visionary, and eternal modernist – was a force of nature,” wrote Ashley Kahn (author of Kind Of Blue: The Making Of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, Da Capo, 2000) in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame dinner journal on the occasion of Miles’ induction.  “With an ear that disregarded categories of style, he sought out new musical worlds, and generations followed in his footsteps.  While the creative rush and experimental charge that come to most musicians in youth eventually run down, Davis held an exploratory edge for most of his 65 years.  It had to be fresh, or forget it.”

            Beyond his defiant stance, his piercing glare, his amorous conquests and one-of-a-kind fashion statements – there was and always will be one eternal truth: the music of Miles Davis.

 

            In 1996, five years after his death, Columbia/Legacy issued the first deluxe multi-disc box set in The Miles Davis Series, the 6-CD Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, (collaborations from 1957-’68).  It went on to win three Grammy Awards – Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Recording Package (Boxed) – the second of only three times in Grammy history that trifecta was ever achieved. 

            Legacy’s Miles Davis Series was unofficially inaugurated in 1997 with five double-CD live digipaks, including Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Fillmore West (April 1970, when Steve Grossman replaced Wayne Shorter) and Miles Davis at Fillmore (at the New York venue, June 1970, with Keith Jarrett in the new lineup), along with In Concert: Live At Philharmonic Hall (New York, September 1972); Dark Magus: Live At Carnegie Hall (New York, March 1974); and Live-Evil (New York, February & June 1970; and Washington, DC, December 1970).

            1998 brought the next two box sets: the Grammy Award-winning 6-CD Miles Davis Quintet 1965-’68: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings; and the Grammy Award-winning 4-CD Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (of 1969-’70).  The fourth box set was issued in 2000, the 6-CD Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961, which won two Grammy Awards, for Best Boxed Recording Package and Best Album Notes.

            In 2001, one decade after his death – and in honor of his 75th birthday celebra­­tion – Legacy formally (re-)launched The Miles Davis Series, with the original motion picture soundtrack album for Columbia Pictures’ Finding Forrester (starring Sean Connery and directed by Gus Van Sant), consisting almost entirely of Miles Davis music.  Five new digitally remastered titles followed: ‘Round About Midnight (with four bonus tracks from the original 1955-56 sessions, not heard on the original 1957 LP); Milestones (with all three known alternate takes from the 1958 LP sessions); Miles Davis At Newport (the full-length performance from the 1958 jazz festival); Jazz At The Plaza (also from 1958, unreleased until 1973, but out-of-print for nearly two decades); and Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Best Of The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961, a single-CD of tracks from the box set.

            Later on in 2001 came The Essential Miles Davis, the double-CD 23-track collec­tion gathered from the discographies of the six companies for whom Miles did his most important recordings (Savoy, Capitol, Prestige, Blue Note, Columbia, and Warner Bros.).  The Columbia archives then surrendered a live concert treasure long considered to be a crucial ‘missing link’ in the Miles Davis iconography, with the release of the double-CD It’s About That Time: Miles Davis Live At Fillmore East (March 7, 1970).  It was followed – on the fateful in-store day of September 11, 2001 – by the triple-CD box set The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions, covering those 1967-’69 dates.  In 2002, the three albums that came out of those sessions were restored, the classic In A Silent Way, and expanded editions of Filles De Kilimanjaro and Water Babies

            The Miles Davis Series returned in 2003, with the 5-CD box set The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions, chronicling those February-June 1970 studio dates that intro­duced John McLaughlin.  (The resulting album, 1971’s A Tribute To Jack Johnson, was reissued in January 2005, in conjunction with the Ken Burns PBS documentary, Unfor­giv­able Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson.)  Meanwhile, August 2004 brought the sixth box set, the 7-CD Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings Of Miles Davis 1963-1964, the largest volume ever produced in the series.

            In 2005, Legacy commemorated the 50th anniversary year of Miles’ original signing to Columbia in 1955, starting with the timely (February) release of My Funny Valentine for the first time on CD in the U.S. (recorded February 1964 at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall in New York).  One week later came the ‘DualDisc’ configuration of Kind Of Blue, with the CD side containing the original album plus its only existing alternate take (“Flamenco Sketches”), and the DVD side containing a 25-minute mini-documentary, Made In Heaven

            As with its predecessor, the Seven Steps box set ‘broke out’ several titles as newly expanded editions in March 2005: Seven Steps To Heaven, Miles Davis In Europe, Four & More (the follow-up to My Funny Valentine), and Miles In Tokyo and Miles In Berlin (both issued for the first-time in the U.S.).  May brought ’Round About Midnight: Legacy Edition, the deluxe 2-CD version of  Miles’ first full-length Columbia LP plus bonus tracks on disc one; with disc two comprising the Newport Jazz Festival perform­ance of “’Round Midnight” (with Thelonious Monk) from 1955, plus the previously unissued 1956 Pasadena concert. 

            2005 concluded with the September release of the 6-CD box set, The Cellar Door Sessions 1970, six complete performance sets at the Washington, D.C. nightclub in December 1970, by the lineup that starred Miles, Keith Jarrett, Gary Bartz, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and (on the final night) guitarist John McLaughlin. 

            Altogether since 1997, the Miles Davis Series has reissued digitally remastered and restored versions (many of them expanded editions) of:  ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy and Bess (1958), Milestones (1958), Miles Davis At Newport (1958), Jazz At The Plaza (1958), Kind Of Blue (1959), Sketches Of Spain (1960), Someday My Prince Will Come (1961), Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall – The Complete Concert (1961), In Person: Friday Night At the Blackhawk (1961), In Person: Satur­day Night At the Blackhawk (1961), Quiet Nights (1962), Seven Steps To Heaven (1963), Miles Davis In Europe (1963), Miles In Tokyo (1964), Miles In Berlin (1964), My Funny Valentine (1965), E.S.P. (1965), Miles Smiles (1966), Four & More (1966), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), Miles In the Sky (1968), In A Silent Way (1969), Filles De Kilimanjaro (1969), Bitches Brew (1970), A Tribute To Jack Johnson (1971), On the Corner (1972), Big Fun (1974), Get Up With It (1974), Water Babies (1976), and Aura (1985). 

            Various collections include four packages culled from the respective boxed sets, the single-CD The Best Of Miles Davis & Gil Evans, the double-CD The Best Of the Miles Davis Quintet 1965-’68, the single-CD Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Best Of The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961, and the single-CD The Best Of Seven Steps To Heaven; plus Miles Davis Love Songs (a 1999 Valentine’s Day special) and 2003’s Love Songs 2; the 2-CD The Essential Miles Davis; the Miles Davis/Ken Burns JAZZ compilation; Blue Miles; Blue Moods – Music For You; The Best Of Miles Davis; and Miles Davis Jazz Moods – Cool; and Cool And CollectedThe Miles Davis Story, the first major documentary to be produced on Miles in nearly 15 years, was issued in 2002 on VHS and interactive DVD formats.

            The 8 critically acclaimed box sets of The Miles Davis Series comprise:

Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (released in 1996), the 6-CD box set which won Grammy Awards for Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Recording Package;

Miles Davis Quintet 1965-’68: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (February 1998), the 6-CD box set which won the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes;

The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (October 1998); the 4-CD boxed set which won the Grammy as Best Boxed Recording Package;

Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961 (February 2000), the 6-CD box set which won Grammy Awards for Best Boxed Recording Package and Best Album Notes;

The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions (September 2001), the 3-CD box set;

The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (August 2003), the 5-CD box set which won the Grammy Award for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package;

Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings Of Miles Davis 1963-1964 (August 2004), the 7-CD box set; and

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (September 2005), the 6-CD box set.

Source: Official Website

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Category: What's N.E.W.
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Tune in with your hosts Ms. PD & Black as we chat with our guest and bring you  throwback music, real talk and ALWAYS lots of laughs as only WE can! Every Tuesday @ 8:00 pm

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BRUNCH WITH SPOKEN WORD-Featuring today’s Guest, “Tammie T. Bell-Davis” Tags: brunch spoken word tammie t bell davis poetic designs pd radio word life production

Today is an awesome, awesome day!! I get to kick it with my girl; Ms. Tammie T. Bell Davis. Tammie is the owner and founder of Poetic Designs. She is also a very talented poet, and host of PD Radio which is broadcasted every Tuesday night from 8:00-10:00 p.m. Please check it out. I’m very excited about this interview because Tammie and I have networked for a couple of years now. She’s been a great inspiration to me through all of her wonderful works.

So Tammie, how long have you been a poet and who or what inspired you?

Well Spoken, I first want to say thank you for this interview. I am so humbled and honored to be chosen as I am truly a fan of YOUR positive light. I have been writing for about 25 years. It started by accident really as I was blessed to have a beautiful little girl whom I named Whitney Monet who died 7 hours after being born due to hospital neglect. Needless to say I was devastated. I didn’t want to deal with anyone and I turned to writing my thoughts down not knowing it was poetry until my mom pointed it out to me. I’ve been writing ever since and that painful loss of my daughter is what inspired it.

Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m pretty sure that was very devastating. Being the strong woman that you are, I’m glad to see that you made it through that very tough time. God has blessed you with a gift that inspires the world. Speaking of gifts, could you tell me a little bit about Poet Designs Network?

Sure, Poetic Designs is a brand that started off as just framed original poetry that family and friends requested as gifts. It has now expanded to a multi gift business, a Poetic Designs Social Networking Site where members can Showcase, Network & Shine their creative talents, And now to my newest quest with Poetic Designs Radio under the 6thManRadio umbrella. It has grown more than I ever could expect.

Cool. I’ve seen some of the personal gifts that you’ve created such as gift baskets, pillows, centerpieces, gift favors, invitations and delicious baked goods, and I must say that your work is totally awesome. What are your future goals for this business?

Yes, as you can see there is really no limit to my creative mind, it’s my passion. My goal is to provide quality, unique, personalized gifts and keepsakes that are unique to the individual. In this world of non-originality and lack of personal touches I want my customers to know I will create specifically for THEM to deliver a quality they can only get from Poetic Designs. Also I would love to be able to have a steady stream of orders and customers where I can successfully have it as my primary source of income.

 I believe that you are going to definitely have a successful future all the way around. Now one of the things that I admire the most about you is your wonderful personality which compliments PD Radio very well. What is your vision for PD Radio?

Wow thanks Spoken that’s so sweet! Well my friend Seed, the head of 6thManRadio, offered me the opportunity to have my own show under his network. I accepted the opportunity to further my love of giving an outlet to aspiring artists of ALL talents whether it be Poetry, Music, Photography, Graphic or Interior Designs or whatever entrepreneur skills you have PD Radio, along with my co-host Black, wants to shine our Creative Artist Spotlight on you. And of course we bring you Real Talk, Funny Skits, and that good ole back in the day REAL music.

Yes yes, you guys do. I must say that I really enjoy listening to PD Radio. You and Black also complement one another very well. Nowadays I see more and more married couples working together as a team to achieve their goals. There are a lot of Barack and Michelle Obama’s all throughout the black community. When I hear of shows such as Love & Hip Hop or Basketball Wives it looks like the total opposite of what Marriage and family is really about. What steps do you think that we can take to change that image?

Black is very talented and creative on so many levels as am I, so we do come together as a great team bouncing creativity off each other for which we are blessed to be able to do. Today there aren’t many many positive couples for the children to look up to. What is portrayed on shows like Love & Hip Hop and Basketball Wives will be the norm and accepted for the youth because it’s how black relationships are displayed. They’ll come to believe if they aren’t “living that life” then they’re not living, so sad really. I feel the best way to effect change is to DEMAND more quality shows by showing the networks we REFUSE to watch the degrading shows they put out. If we stick to this the change will HAVE to come.

That is so true. I hardly ever watch TV which is why I’m available online most of the time. lol Television is such a waste today. When we were younger there was way more positive family shows available. Today everything is the total opposite of good. What they call living is not living at all. In fact, most of the things that are promoted through the media are negative. It’s not many willing to demand the change because sadly many blacks follow the stereotypes. That’s what keeps the propaganda going. I for one do not want kids to follow that. I would like them to have real hope for their future which includes a healthy family life. That’s what I call "Living the Life”. If you can’t be a positive role model in your own home, then what example can you really set for those watching. Now For the last decade, the hip hop community has flourished, but there are a lot of people especially those that support real hip hop music that disagree with the poor representation of hip hop music today. What are your views on that?

I think the difference between Hip Hop THEN and NOW is that then there was the LOVE of hip hop, the truest way to express what was happening in our communities or to even tell a simple story. There was a passion for it back in the day, not so much about money but about being HEARD. Today, not so much. Today it’s about the MONEY and that’s why the art is failing, it’s about having a gimmick that’s marketable the clones can blindly follow, Period. But I believe it will get back to the days of before because there is a rising movement to make it so. The way young rappers disrespect the pioneers who paved the way is foul. My boss Bad Seed of 6thManRadio is pushing a movement for Adult Contemporary Hip Hop the same way they have for other genres. The heart of the craft will return once people get tired of their intelligence being insulted by the madness.

I truly hope so. Enough is enough already. In my opinion, there is absolutely no real hip hop representation today in the mainstream media of course. Most mature adults are way past that get money stage, so the Adult Contemporary Hip Hop is an excellent idea. I’m grown and I like to hang out with people my age who are mature and wise. There is such a large catalog of new artists out there, and I dedicate most of my time finding those artists as well. I love music and that’s the only way that I can listen to something real without having to always go back to the golden era. Do you think that hip hop has any real chance of being revived? If so, how do you think that it could be revived?

I do, however the young kids today are way too easily influenced to follow trends that are degrading to them. In order to revive it we have look at the history of how it all started. Just because the pioneers have grown their love of the game hasn’t, in fact, older MC’s will have a more positive affect with music as they have LIVED, and SEEN and DONE what the average young rapper have yet to experience. Change and Growth is a good thing but there are some creative outlets that must be preserved. As with the degrading shows on TV we have to demand a change by not copping the bull that EXECUTIVES in an office deem credible. Listen to the streets and you’ll hear the truth.

I know right. Most of the executives are college grads, but have no real ear for music. I think when it comes to filling those positions they should really look beyond the education factor because in order to find great talent you have to have an ear for music. That’s something that school cannot teach. That’s a gift from God for those who believe. Because many executives don’t have an ear for music, they have created a mess out of what we use to call soul music. It’s now become an all pop genre. Black people never listened to pop in my day. In fact we laughed at it because most of it was corny, which is why Nicki Minaj probably gets such bad press from real hip hop lovers. It’s like a total insult to the whole community. But anyway, I just got word that while Gabby Douglas was training in Virginia, the kids who trained with her often called her names such as a slave. Now the gymnast says that it’s not true. However, I’m from Virginia, and there is a lot of indirect/direct racism especially in the work place and toward those in a lower income bracket such as Gabby Douglas was before she won the gold. Not too long ago, a substitute teacher in Norfolk, Virginia was auctioning off black kids in the classroom to white kids in order to show a demonstration of slavery. Apparently these things happen because there is no real discipline for those who do it. The rumor is that racism is dead so instances such as this are constantly ignored. It’s one thing when we go through it as adults, but what do you think that we can do to prepare our kids for such ignorance?

Honestly Spoken I’m quite sick of it all. I mean I just don’t understand in THIS day why we’re still fighting this madness. Seems to me people are more blatant with the disrespect than the past. For that teacher to demonstrate slavery in the classroom the way she did was hurtful, though I’m sure she thought it was an effective way to learn but it subliminally implant in the minds of the young white kids is that they are better and the black kids feel inferior, just sad and wrong. The world gets crazier by the day and the best way to teach our kids is to have a strong foundation at home which implants in them strength and when they are faced with such disgrace they will have a sense of worth and won’t feel belittled because they know they are better than that.

That’s so true. What do you think about the whole hair issue?  

Hair is hair, make the best of what you have and keep it moving. I’m so over the trivial things such as this. Why is Gabby’s hair even an issue? This young lady has done more and sacrificed more than most of the people who are talking just to be in the limelight she basks in now. Focusing on her hair is just a way to bring her down a notch, shift the focus of the fabulous work she’s done. But she’s strong I see it in her eyes, this too shall pass. GO GABBY!!!!

Lol I know. What sickens me about the whole thing is that it is always one of us. It so sad to say that a lot of kids are teased because their parents may not be able to afford to buy name brand clothes shoes or follow any of the trends that kids follow today. The same way Gabby was distracted when she went for the gold the third time, is the same way kids are distracted in the school system for not looking like top model in a place where you go to learn. The people who were talking were grown which shows you that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. Alright, let’s politick for a moment. Statistically, the black population has the highest poverty and prison rate in America. What do you think that we as a black community could do to change those numbers?

HONESTLY Spoken I don’t know. I mean the black communities, individuals, have to want more for ourselves. As long as people’s minds are limited so will be the change quite simply. Yes the government tries to hold us back that can no longer be the excuse. Every other race helps and supports their own but us. Until we are out of the crab in a barrel mentality things won’t change much. It comes down to the individuals, who come collectively as a whole, to be tired enough of poverty and crime to make the change.

That is so true. There is no real community without unity. The moment we thought that things were looking up for us, then comes drugs which increased the crime rate tremendously. After we cleaned most of that up then comes the negative rappers that promote the things that many of us have already overcome.  So instead of moving forward, it looks as if we are always falling back. I would like to thank you Tammie for taking the time out to chat with me today. I truly appreciate it!! This has been a great interview!! Please give our viewers the links to where they can follow your work.

Again I thank YOU Spoken for deeming me worthy of this interview and for all the positive you are doing through your music, spoken word and social activism, respect to you. 

Poetic Designs Radio: http://pdradio.site40.net

Poetic Designs Gifts: http://poeticdesigns.net

Poetic Designs Social Networking Site: http://poeticdesigns.ning.com

You are truly welcome Tammie and I look forward to chatting with you again soon!!    

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