miles davis cultural medallion

The Miles Davis Cultural Medallion

*The beautiful New York City brownstone once an incubator for Bitches Brew,” breathed an “Essence of Miles.”

What took place was a commemoration of Miles Davis through the installation of a “cultural medallion” on the brownstone at 312 West 77 Street, Manhattan.  Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chairperson of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center opened the dedication where all hands were on deck.

Old friends and family spoke at the event.  Author-Biographer Quincy Troupe followed reading excerpts from his works describing Miles.  Next up was composer/ arranger son of Jimmy Heath, Mtume, who expressed his experiences with the “genius.” Others who spoke were Lee Konitz, Gary Bartz, Wallace Roney, Phil Schaap, George Coleman and Miles’ nephew from Los Angeles drummer Vince Wilburn, Jr.  Also present were Bill Saxton owner of Harlem’s Bill’s Place, Noah Evans son of arranger Gil Evans, Juini Booth bassist for Thelonious Monk and SunRa plus Sandra Trim-DaCosta (former Director of Marketing, Columbia Records/SONY Music) who worked closely with Miles for several years, after being assigned by the late legendary music industry executive Dr. George Butler (former Sr. Vice President, A&R, Columbia Records) to develop the overall marketing campaign for Miles and his recordings for the label … Dr. Butler played a significant role in the jazz icon’s return to the music scene and we are forever grateful to him for his tenacity and vision for Miles.

miles davis cultural medallion & attendees at ceremony

Front Row (l-r) Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Monty Alexander (Back Row) DJ Choice, Homeowner Hans, Neighbor, Sandra Trim-DaCosta, Quincy Troupe, Phil Schaap, Wallace Roney, Gary Bartz, Mtume and Vince Wilburn Photo 2 Land Mark Medallion Photos by R. I. Hadley

Of course, music filled the air and that was provided by Wallace Roney on trumpet, Gary Bartz on alto sax with Monty Alexander on keys.  They performed a swinging version of Miles’ infamous “If I Were a Bell” a tune often used on the seventies hit The Cosby Show whenever a doorbell was written into the script. The trio was backed by the Advanced Jazz Combo at Harlem School of the Arts a brilliant young quartet with Matthew Whitaker on keys, Frank Rankin on Guitar, Dominic Gervais on drums and Oren Maximov on bass under the directorship of D.D. Jackson.  An elegant set was provided by these young men prior to the event. The only thing that could have topped this event was to have it on May 26 which is Miles’ birthday.  But why wait, the weather was great and those involved made it a success. All those present knew, contrary to popular belief, on this day… “Miles Smiles.”

Check out the swing (jam) session in that went down in Miles’ honor after the ceremony: