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'Bridging the gap' with Miles Davis tribute in Riverwest

Miles Davis Tribute

What: "A Tribute to Miles Davis"
When: April 15, music starts at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Company Brewing
Tickets: $10 at door / $5 with dinner reservation
Company Brewing is presenting this as a “Supper Club Jazz” event. Reserved seating for dinner starts at 8:20 p.m. For reservations, call 414-930-0909 or email:

Sure, it’s a Miles Davis tribute. But it’s not just for old jazz fans. And it’s not just to piggyback on the new Don Cheadle movie about Davis, “Miles Ahead.”

For the event’s organizer, it’s a chance to bring different people together.

“It’s a good opportunity to bridge the age-race gap,” says Jay Anderson, who also will play saxophone at the tribute April 15 at Company Brewing. “I want to bring distinct audiences together for one show.”

The timing is right, he says. Because younger, hip-hop fans are getting more interested in jazz.

“Kendrick Lamar and all those guys -- the best rappers -- are building up their bands with some of the best jazz guys,” such as saxophonist Kamasi Washington and bassist Thundercat. “There’s lots of crossover happening.”

Anderson even finds himself crossing over. He’s rooted in jazz, but lately has been playing more hip-hop gigs. He says Lamar and others “informed the impression. So now the hip-hop people I hang out with are saying ‘Oh, we know what to do with the sax now.’”

Does that mean the Miles Davis tribute will be a hip-hop take on Davis’ music?

Part yes, part no.

“We’ll be doing some interpretation,” Anderson says, “and some straight ahead, completely and totally giving tribute.”

That mix reflects the makeup of the players gathered for the event. “Members of the group pull in all directions,” he says.

Anderson, 23, and drummer Mitch Shiner are the youngins. The “less young” guys are pianist Mark Davis (“an actual jazz musician,” says Anderson), bassist Ethan Bender (“straight up old school”) and trumpeter Russ Johnson, (“the way he plays, his ‘free jazz,’ draws a big contrast to the others”).

Some modern jazz kind of lost people... -- Jay Anderson

What is it about Miles Davis’ music that endures?

“I love the simplicity,” Anderson says. “I love the amount of space. I love how much he scaled it back and how much emphasis he put on individual notes.

“Some modern jazz kind of lost people. It became about how many notes you can play, how quickly, and a lot of people totally forgot how to play at a hyper-emotional level.

“He totally brings it back. It started one note at a time.”

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