The Troy Street Observer

June 26-29, 1981 at Kix: We Want Miles!

There are comebacks, and then there are comebacks. Thirty-four years ago, in June 1981, Miles Davis staged a memorable comeback performance in Boston that ended five years of self-imposed silence. The four-night barrage stood the jazz world on its ear, and although the music was formidable, what made it all so head-turning was that it was such an event.

We Want Miles! Miles Davis 1981
We Want Miles, Columbia LP C2 38005; Miles Davis, 1981, photo by Paul Natkin

 

Miles had been out of the public eye for five years, enduring physical maladies and having little desire to play. But he was ready to go again in 1981, and his group had just recorded a new album, The Man With the Horn, and he was going to play at the Kool Jazz Festival in New York in early July. But Davis wanted a tune-up first, and he wanted to do it in a club. So Davis contacted Fred Taylor, for whom he had worked more than ten times at the Jazz Workshop or Paul’s Mall between 1967 and 1977. Simply put, Miles Davis trusted Taylor.

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Mar 5, 1974: A Memorial Concert for Lennie Johnson

“Nobody in the capacity house at John Hancock Hall could see him, of course, but you can wager your paycheck that Lennie Johnson was sitting in last night for that all-star gig they threw in his memory.”

Photo of Lennie Johnson and Herb Pomeroy-1970
Lennie Johnson and Herb Pomeroy, 1970. Photo Berklee College of Music

So began Ernie Santosuosso’s review in the Boston Globe on March 6, 1974, the morning after the concert.

Johnson had been an instructor at Berklee for about five years at the time of his death in October 1973, and Berklee sponsored the concert, the biggest of the 1973-74 school year, and colleagues galore turned out to participate. Berklee had no large hall of its own (the Berklee Performance Center did not open until 1976), so whenever the school needed an auditorium, it rented the 1,100-seat John Hancock Hall.

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