Note: this is a Simulblog, posted both on Positive Music Place and D-Theory.
It’s rare to hear the name Miles Davis mentioned on any non-jazz radio station–especially a sports station–so when it happened yesterday morning I assumed that either I needed another cup of coffee to clear the fog from my head or that there was another Miles Davis being discussed; perhaps a little known tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But no, it was the Man with the Horn; the jazz legend who gave us “Kind of Blue”, “Birth of the Cool”, “Bitches Brew” and much more. Exactly just was Miles doing on the “Weekend Warriors” sports talk show?
The guest was David Epstein, author of “The Sports Gene“, and he was discussing a theme from his book: parallels between the thought processes of great athletes and great musicians. Epstein said (paraphrasing here): “Musicians like Miles Davis and Steely Dan* are known more for what they don’t play; how they use space to shape their music; defining what’s there by what’s not there. Similarly, an amateur quarterback, like me, would look downfield at all of the wide receivers to decide where to throw the ball while Peyton Manning looks at where they aren’t, because that’s where they will be as the play develops.”
So there you have it – an example of how seemingly disparate worlds have parallels. In high school, the star quarterback and marching band geek may be on opposite sides of the social spectrum, but in achieving greatness after graduation, they just might have something to teach each other.
* Epstein didn’t actually mention Steely Dan; I just felt like dropping them in.