Essay Jazz Latin
But things started going wrong even before Mitchell arrived at Reeves Sound Studios on East Forty-Fourth Street.
First, his luggage went astray en route from Florida.
It’s as if “Nardis” were always going on somewhere, with players dropping in and out of a musical conversation beyond space and time.
Pale, bespectacled, and soft-spoken, Bill Evans looked more like a graduate student of theology than a hard-swinging jazzman.
He was already working for Miles full-time on the night he recorded “Nardis” for Cannonball. “I heard him at Birdland—he can play his ass off.” Indeed, the first time Evans played a beginner’s intermission set at the Village Vanguard—Max Gordon’s basement club, the Parnassus of jazz—the pianist was astonished to look up and see the legendary trumpeter standing there, listening intently.
Then there was a surprise waiting for him in the control room: Miles Davis, one of his musical heroes, who had taken the extraordinary step of composing a new melody as a gift to Cannonball. That wasn’t going to be easy, because the tune, called “Nardis,” was anything but a standard workout on blues-based changes.
The melody had a haunting, angular, exotic quality, like the “Gypsy jazz” that guitarist Django Reinhardt played with the Hot Club de France in the 1930s.