Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 2, 2003

The murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian suicide bombers is an abomination. So is the murder of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army. At this moment, 27 Israeli pilots have joined hundreds of reservists in refusing to carry out what they term "illegal and immoral attack orders" in the West Bank and Gaza. Ms. Kava speaks of Israel's restraint in the face of the situation "imposed upon her." Israel is currently defying several U.N. resolutions, notably 242, in occupying Palestinian territory and continuing to establish settlements on these lands.

I agree with Ms. Kava that it is important to educate oneself before speaking out. I'd also suggest that partial truths do nothing to elucidate a tense and tragic situation.

You Say You Want an Evolution?

Pulling strings: I was very pleased to see John McLaughlin get some coverage in Michael Roberts's "The Evolutionary," in the September 11 issue. He is one of the best guitarists I have ever heard, having had the privilege of seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra's first performance at the Gaslight A Go-Go in New York years ago. I also witnessed dozens of shows that Shakti did in 1976, when it opened for Weather Report across the country. (I was working the tour for Weather Report; it was Jaco Pastorius's first tour with Joe and Wayne.) I have seen John play with Carlos Santana and with Mahavishnu II.

Having worked for Miles Davis as a roadie and eventually as road manager, I had many opportunities to talk to Miles about guitar players. He was interested in my opinion because he knew I was a guitar player myself. In fact, I gave him a few lessons in playing the guitar, but he had no patience for it. Miles loved the guitar, whether it was Rodrigo's "Concerto de Aranuez," which was originally written for flamenco guitar and orchestra, or Jimi's immortal "Voodoo Chile" (Slight Return). Miles's favorite guitarists were Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Peter Townshend.

There are some points in Roberts's otherwise excellent article that may need clarification or commentary:

The album A Tribute to Jack Johnson, which was written to accompany the documentary film of the same name, came about because of Miles's friendship with Jim Jacobs, who had the biggest collection of fight films in the world. Jacobs would later co-manage Mike Tyson with Bill Cayton, with whom he co-produced the film.

The connection that caused Miles to name the song "Willie Nelson" was the fact that Willie Nelson was managed by Neal Reshen, who also managed Miles.

If any Miles fans want to hear more of these types of anecdotes, they can pick up my book called Miles to Go, which was published last year by Thunder's Mouth Press. I think you can still get it on Amazon.com.

Chris Murphy

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