Miles Davis plays Michael Jackson

Miles Davis covers Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." Yes, really.


      1. With all respect to one of the most important musical geniuses of the century, I have to agree that Mr. Davis’ playing is crap in this performance. He’s out of tune most of the way through, out of time several times, and hitting wrong notes left and right. I don’t know if it’s drugs or old age, but he’s definitely not on top of his game in this video.

  1. This was really one of THE Miles Davis tunes of his last few years. Not an anomaly or one-off stunt. He was known for a number of pop tunes. Some of the performances of these tunes far exceed the source material. Some do not.

  2. Miles use to do Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time around this era, too. Neither one of them really suited his playing very well.

  3. He covered “Human Nature” and “Time After Time” on You’re Under Arrest in 1985. This video definitely isn’t his best rendition of “Human Nature”. Was he having trouble hearing himself in the stage monitor?

  4. wow. his lungs just sound SHOT. soooo don’t want to be a hater in this thread, but there are just flubs all over the place! i don’t know HOW his lungs would be shot though…i would think they’d be like quadruple-layered with 8 chambers and made of steel by the time that was shot

    1. “i don’t know HOW his lungs would be shot though”

      Ever heard the guy talk? He may have smoked a cigarette or two. Also? Heroin.

      1. Miles had a throat disorder, I’m not sure what, but he had his larynx scraped at one point during his life. I can’t recall any pics of him smoking but I wouldn’t count that out either.

  5. Name me a jazz musician who isn’t out of time often and I’ll give you a bundle of cash. By Miles Davis standards he’s playing fucking great. Look, I have every album except for a few from every period of his career and his skills aren’t much different. He’s not really known as a virtuoso trumpeter anyway–his genius was changing the direction of jazz–4 or 5 times.

    1. Agreed. For better or worse, this sounds pretty much like most late-period Miles Davis live performances I’ve heard.

      To compare his playing to a bad middle-school band player reminds me of people who look at a Jackson Pollock and say “My five-year-old could do that!”

  6. People always had things to say about Miles and Miles could give a crap. Some people never did get it and never will. His voice was his voice and it wasn’t anyone else’s, ever. That’s the point. Lots of imitators of course. As pointed out by several posters he performed a lot of pop songs during this period. Fact is, he always played some pop songs. There is a better link to a Miles version of this tune from Montreux on youtube with a crackerjack band that opens up the centre of the piece and funks out in a delicate and lush arrangement that knocks me about today just as much as it did when I first heard it twenty+ years ago.

  7. I saw a Miles Davis Concert in Boston around this time. Everyone who went, including my band teacher, was pretty disappointed in the show. Miles Davis has made some of the greatest musical recordings in history but this… was not one of them. He seemed lost and spaced out, wandering around the stage, with little bleats and missed notes that sounded like the low kids on the totem pole in the beginner band.

    The next night we saw the touring show of Little Shop of Horrors with Ellen Greene as Audry. It was much, MUCH more entertaining.

  8. Not sure what live concerts on DVD or VHS you’ve seen but most have a LOT of overdubbing. This is the raw shit, man. If you ever get a live bootleg of one of your favorite artists, they often sound similar to this.

  9. @4, @5,

    I haven’t listened to the cover of MJ’s song yet, but re: Miles covering Cyndi Lauper’s song, the explanation I heard was that Time After Time is on the CD after “Katia Prelude” and “Katia,” which are both *very* intense songs: Miles, John McLaughlin and the band ‘take no prisoners’ on those songs. “Time After Time” is the next song, specifically b/c it is mellow, in comparison to the Katia songs, which will burn your ears off.

    Also, I kind of like “Time After Time” so I don’t see anything wrong with Miles covering it. Miles didn’t have anything to prove to you or anyone else by that point, as he had *long* been perhaps the world’s most preeminent jazz musician. His bands *always* had the finest players; he had the pick of the litter: John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, etc. etc. etc. While he lived, Miles played with every stellar jazz musician of the last 40 years.

    Miles was to jazz what Picasso was to art: in a class of his own, at the top of Mt. Everest.

  10. @lectroid I was at that Boston show too. I agree, Miles “lacked focus.” I wish I’d seen him earlier.

    I think both “Human Nature” and “Time After Time” are quite lovely tunes, especially the later. They are certainly equal to many of the pop tunes that became jazz standards. I appreciate that Miles was always looking for new, contemporary material. I’d chew my own leg off before I play “Autumn Leaves” again. Forget about “Tea for Two”. (Another one in the top 100 *). Miles could have made people happy and had a successful career by continuing to play his repertoire from ’65. The fact that he didn’t is to his credit, even if the results are uneven.


  11. I really liked his version of Human Nature. He also covered Scritti Politti’s “Perfect Way” on the next album, Tutu, which is pretty good.

  12. Jazzers have historically covered pop songs, a tradition as old as the art form itself. Miles’ cover of Human Nature is only shocking or newsworthy to people who don’t know anything about jazz.

  13. Davis WAS a genius who changed jazz more than once, but there’s no conflict in granting that and noting that this is a dreadful performance by an artist well into creative decline. It only makes sense that people who do great things that are recognized in their own lifetimes would be encouraged to continue taking risks, and taking risks goes hand in hand with accepting failure. It doesn’t detract from Davis’ life’s work that he produced some shit. Any good artist who lives long enough does.

    And it’s not just artists. Linus Pauling, vitamin C, etc.

    I heard Dizzy Gillespie play during his last few years of life. His chops were shot, his solos sucked — he did a couple of *rap* numbers, for fuck’s sake. The whole thing was vaguely embarrassing. But Gillespie is no less a jazz great for it.

  14. Too bad this cut doesn’t include one of the young Kenny Garrett’s phenomenal alto solos–he ripped it up on this tune, night after night. The recording on Miles’s “Live Around the World” CD includes one such blow-the-doors-off performances.

  15. It’s interesting to view the comments on YouTube regarding this video vs. the comments on BoingBoing. It’s sort of like visiting The Bizzaro World or something.

  16. He recorded this song for his wife at the time, an actress whose name I can’t remember. She would play MJ’s version over and over and over. He would get annoyed, asking her “do you really love this song so much you have to replay it all the time?”. Finally he recorded his version as a gift to her, and it became a minor hit for him.

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