From 1971 "Miles Davis - A Tribute to Jack Johnson"
MILES DAVIS 1971's "A Tribute to Jack Johnson"
[ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED to One CD] in
Stores January 11 on Columbia/Legacy Jazz
On Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2005, PBS television stations
across the country will broadcast the first of two episodes of
"Unforgivable Blackness:The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson", a
provocative new PBS documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns.
The second episode will air January 18th. (Please check local listings
for time and channel.)
Always forward looking, a visionary, Miles Davis envisioned a different
way to immortalize Jack Johnson. Miles heard the music of Jimi Hendrix
and Sly & the Family Stone in 1970, and conceptualized a futuristic
approach that went beyond the jack-rock fusion of the day.
More than 90 years have gone by since trumped up government charges
led to the conviction of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson
(1878-1946), for violating the Mann Act, outlawing the transportation of
women in interstate or foreign commerce "for the purpose of prostitution
or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose."
From that moment onward, the FBI and Department of Justice doggedly
pursued Johnson, hatred on the account of his relationships with white
women. When a disgruntled former white lover finally agreed to testify
against Johnson in 1913, he was convicted and sentenced to a year and
one day in federal prison. Johnson fled the country, first to Canada and
later to Europe.
At the height of the Jim Crow era in this country, Johnson lived as a
fugitive in Europe during the World War I years. He was released in
1921, at age 43, and was never again given a shot at the heavyweight
After being angered by a racist incident at a North Carolin diner in 1946,
Johnson crashed his car and died at age 58. 2500 people attended his
funeral in Chicago, with hundreds more outside.
In the original liner notes by Miles Davis, "Johnson portrayed Freedom -
it rang just as loud as the bell proclaiming him champion. He had flashy
cars because that was his thing. That's right, the big ones and the fast
ones. He smoked cigars, drank only the best champagne and prized a 7
ft bass fiddle on which he'd proudly thump jazz. His flamboyance was
more than obvious. And no doubt mighty whitey felt No Black man
should have all this".
"A Tribute to Jack Johnson" by Miles Davis, originally issued on February
24, 1971 features personnel Miles Davis, trumpet; Steve Grossman,
soprano saxophone; Herbie Hancock, organ; John McLaughlin, guitar;
Michael Henderson, electric bass; and Billy Cobham, drums.
Miles Davis appeciation for the sport of
boxing was part of his identity. He was an
avid prize-fightng enthusiast who often
trained in boxing gyms to stay in shape.
On Jan 11, 2005 "The Complete Jack
Johnson Sessions", a remastered CD
of the original LP will arrive in stores on
Columbia/Legacy Jazz, a division of Sony
BMG Music Entertainment.