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  Sea Girls Live

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  Martha Wainwright’s LP Review

  Making the Image: Miles Davis

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  Moby The Very Best Of Interview


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Making the Image: Miles Davis


Guy Le Querrec © Guy Le Querrec | Magnum Photos

Here we look at the making of Guy Le Querrec’s capture of Miles Davis quintet during the Parris Jaz festival in 1969. Le Querrec’s contact sheets show us his unique ability to anticipate and prepare for each move of the musicians allowing him to take electrifying images of the jazz concert.

You can purchase the image itself here:, and the contact sheet here:

Paris, France, November 1969

Guy Le Querrec reflects on his magnetizing documentation of the Miles Davis quintet and what it was like capturing the intimacy of live music through images.

After a concert by Duke Ellington and his orchestra on 1 November 1969, the organizers of the 6th Paris Jazz Festival had scheduled a double concert in the Salle Pleyel for 3 November at 7.30pm and again at 10.30pm. Miles Davis’s quintet, with Wayne Shorter on sax, Chick Corea on keyboards, Dave Holland on double bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, was to appear on stage before Cecil Taylor’s quartet. I had decided to photograph all the concerts. By now I was working as head of the photo department at the Paris based weekly magazine Jeune Afrique, so I also did regular reports in Africa, but I continued to photograph jazz as often as I could.

This was the second time that Miles Davis had entered my viewfinder, the first time being at the 1st Paris Jazz Festival in October 1964. I was still an amateur then. In those days, stages were brighter and the technical conditions were easier than they are today. Back then I took fewer photos, too. This was doubtless due to the need to be economical, but it was also because, being able to leave fewer things to chance, I had to concentrate harder in a given situation. This was certainly the case during the 10.30pm concert.


Although live music is always a visually dramatic art form, this concert was particularly noteworthy. As happened from time to time throughout the gig, Miles wandered away from the centre of the stage and the microphones to let his musicians take turns improvising. I had a premonition of the move he was going to make. Anticipating it, I was in just the right place when he stopped for an instant in a beam of light that was emanating from the floor, illuminating him in my low angle shot and throwing a shadow on the curtain at the back. Miles passed without transition from the full uniform lights of the show into a single sophisticated, sculptural light. It accentuated his strange, enigmatic, fascinating beauty and emphasized the depth of his gaze - the same qualities found in his music.”


Guy Le Querrec 8th arrondissement. US trumpet player Miles Davis at the Salle Pleyel concert hall. Paris, France. Monday 3rd November 1969. © Guy Le Querrec | Magnum Photos

Miles Davies Biography

Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991) was an American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music. Davis adopted a variety of musical directions in a five-decade career that kept him at the forefront of many major stylistic developments in jazz.

Born in Alton, Illinois, and raised in East St. Louis, Davis left to study at Juilliard in New York City, before dropping out and making his professional debut as a member of saxophonist Charlie Parker’s bebop quintet from 1944 to 1948. Shortly after, he recorded the BIRTH OF THE COOL sessions for Capitol Records, which were instrumental to the development of cool jazz. In the early 1950s, Miles Davis recorded some of the earliest hard bop music while on Prestige Records but did so haphazardly due to a heroin addiction. After a widely acclaimed comeback performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, he signed a long-term contract with Columbia Records and recorded the 1957 album ‘ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT. It was his first work with saxophonist John Coltrane and bassist Paul Chambers, key members of the sextet he led into the early 1960s. During this period, he alternated between orchestral jazz collaborations with arranger Gil Evans, such as the Spanish music-influenced SKETCHES OF SPAIN(1960), and band recordings, such as MILESTONES (1958) and KIND OF BLUE (1959). The latter recording remains one of the most popular jazz albums of all time, having sold over five million copies in the U.S.


Davis made several line-up changes while recording SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME (1961), his 1961 Blackhawk concerts, and SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN (1963), another mainstream success that introduced bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, and drummer Tony Williams. After adding saxophonist Wayne Shorter to his new quintet in 1964, Davis led them on a series of more abstract recordings often composed by the band members, helping pioneer the post-bop genre with albums such as E.S.P (1965) and MILES SMILES (1967), before transitioning into his electric period. During the 1970s, he experimented with rock, funk, African rhythms, emerging electronic music technology, and an ever-changing line-up of musicians, including keyboardist Joe Zawinul, drummer Al Foster, and guitarist John McLaughlin. This period, beginning with Davis’s 1969 studio album IN A SILENT WAY and concluding with the 1975 concert recording AGHARTA, was the most controversial in his career, alienating and challenging many in jazz. His million-selling 1970 record BITCHES BREW helped spark a resurgence in the genre’s commercial popularity with jazz fusion as the decade progressed.


After a five-year retirement due to poor health, Davis resumed his career in the 1980s, employing younger musicians and pop sounds on albums such as THE MAN WITH A HORN (1981) and TUTU (1986). Critics were often unreceptive but the decade garnered Davis his highest level of commercial recognition. He performed sold-out concerts worldwide, while branching out into visual arts, film, and television work, before his death in 1991 from the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure. In 2006, Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which recognized him as “one of the key figures in the history of jazz“. Rolling Stone described him as “the most revered jazz trumpeter of all time, not to mention one of the most important musicians of the 20th century,” while Gerald Early called him inarguably one of the most influential and innovative musicians of that period.

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