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Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble in "Acoustic to Electric: The Visionary Genius of Miles Davis" at Paul Hall

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Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble
(Juilliard Jazz Web Page)

Acoustic to Electric:
The Visionary Genius of Miles Davis

(Miles Davis Bio)

Ron Carter, Guest Coach

Ensemble Coaches:
Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Barron, Rodney Jones

Artist Diploma Ensemble:
Lukas Gabric, Tenor Saxophone
Reuben Allen, Piano
Paolo Benedettini, Bass
Jordan Young, Drums

Paul Recital Hall
155 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

Media Relations: Gloria Gottschalk

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 3, 2015

I have always been a fan of the Miles Davis recording repertoire, especially the album Kind of Blue, released in 1959 by Columbia Records. I was not familiar with his 1968 recording, Filles de Kilimanjaro, also on the Columbia record label. The theme of tonight’s program about Miles Davis’ nine-year, musical evolution, “Acoustic to Electric”, was showcased in two sets, both performed by the Juilliard Artist Diploma Ensemble. This is a young, talented ensemble, with Lukas Gabric on tenor sax, Paolo Benedettini on bass, Jordan Young on drums, Greg Duncan on guitar, and Reuben Allen on piano. The renowned bassist, Ron Carter, who has been reviewed over the years on these pages, was Guest Coach. Mr. Carter won a 1993 Grammy for his Miles Davis Tribute Band. The three Juilliard coaches were Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Barron, and Rodney Jones. Mr. Marsalis is Director of Juilliard Jazz and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He plays lead trumpet with his JALC Orchestra. Kenny Barron is a renowned jazz pianist, while Rodney Jones is known as a master jazz guitarist.

Kind of Blue, said to be the best-selling jazz record of all time, opened with “So What” (arr. Benedettini). It opened with Paolo Benedettini on bass, in an energized deep tone. Lukas Gabric’s tenor sax came in, bright and tuneful, and then Greg Duncan’s guitar, with a steady, searing passage. “Freddie Freeloader” (arr. Gabric) included a bluesy piano riff by Reuben Allen, who seemed quite comfortable with the piece. “Blue in Green” (arr. Young) opened with a guitar-piano riff, melancholy and introspective. As the ensemble became comfortable with music and mood, the effect was lush and languid, with percussive piano ornamentations. This track was written by Bill Evans and Miles Davis. “All Blues” (arr. Benedettini) picked up the pace with rhythmic swing and urban sparkle. Guitar refrains were imbued in the effervescent composition. Extra drum embellishments, by Jordan Young, enhanced the music toward the finale. “Flamenco Sketches”, also by Davis and Evans, (arr. Allen) included a Spanish dance motif. Mr. Young’s brushes, along with Mr. Allen’s piano, combined for a mellow, midnight aura.

The second set included the five tracks of Filles de Kilimanjaro, which translated from French means “Daughters (or Girls) of Kilimanjaro”. The record title refers to a Kilimanjaro coffee company, and Davis added exotic, French track titles. One track is an homage to Betty Mabry, Davis’ fiancée, whom he married during the creation of this electrically charged record. “Frelon Brun” (arr. Allen), translating to “Brown Hornet”, has an abstract, atonal, sound, nine years after Kind of Blue. Greg Duncan’s electric guitar rolls in rhythm, before a sax solo fluctuates on and off key. Sax and drums finish the piece. “Tout de Suite”, or “Right Away”, (arr. Duncan) begins with a shimmering electric bass, while “Petits Machins”, or “Little Stuff”, (arr. Duncan) exudes deep tones up and down the scale. The electric piano adds unpredictable, dissonant effects, along with the merging, electrified guitar.

The title track, “Filles de Kilimanjaro”, played out of order, was next, with the sax leading the strutting tempo. Both electric bass and piano soared over steady drumbeats, giving this piece a prolonged pulse. Mr. Young’s big drum spotlight was right here, exotic and magnetic. Davis’ final piece, which places last track on this album, is the tribute to Betty Mabry, “Mademoiselle Mabry”. The acoustic bass re-appeared for this tune, with soft guitar and an elegant piano solo. Occasional drums gave this piece some class and sass.

Kudos to all, and kudos to Miles Davis.

Juilliard Artist Diploma Ensemble in
"1959 to 1969, Acoustic to Electric:
The Visionary Genius of Miles Davis"
Courtesy of Rahav Segev

Juilliard Artist Diploma Ensemble in
"1959 to 1969, Acoustic to Electric:
The Visionary Genius of Miles Davis"
Courtesy of Rahav Segev

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at