Live Performance Service - International Music Presentations

Miles Davis performed his last European concert in Vienna in 1991. It has also become legendary as "the concert that almost never happened".

Miles Davis was born in Alton, Illinois, in 1926, and had his first exposure to jazz when visiting the clubs of St. Louis, just across the Mississippi River from his hometown. As a teenager, the young trumpeter went to New York to study at the Juilliard School of Music but was soon drawn to the vibrant jazz scene on 42nd street in Manhattan.

Davis joined Charlie Parker’s band in 1945 when bebop was exploding across the landscape of jazz. A few years later he launched a solo career and, along with Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz, recorded some of the first cool jazz albums in the early 1950s. It was also in the 1950s that he found the right collaborator in arranger Gil Evans. Between 1958 and 1963 they recorded several superb albums, including "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain".

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Miles DavisMiles Davis
Miles Davis

In the 1960s, Miles Davis became a pioneer of free and electronic jazz-rock with a band which included Joe Zawinul. After withdrawing from the music scene for much of the 1970s and early 1980s, Miles Davis came back in the mid-1980s with his album "Tutu", named after the South African bishop and anti-apartheid activists. Always an innovator, Miles Davis was experimenting with combinations of jazz and hip-hop when he died in the fall of 1991 and the age of 65.

Miles agreed to perform at the Austria Center in the summer of 1991. As Fritz Thom tells it, it was the concert which almost never happened because the truck carrying the band’s equipment had lost their way from the previous concert venue. Fritz urged the audience to be patient and even sent people to "scout" the highway to guide the tardy truck to the Austria Center. Miles had agreed to perform in Vienna the following year if the equipment arrived too late for the gig. Happily for all, the equipment eventually arrived and the concert proceeded, albeit a few hours later than planned. Miles and his band put on a remarkable show. It was, alas, to be his last concert in Europe. Jazz fans across the continent were saddened to hear a few months later that this true giant of jazz had passed away much too soon.

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