An Italian record company released the “lost recordings” of Miles Davis, but the trumpeter on the cover of the record is Ambrose Akinmusire. They don’t know what Miles Davis looks like. Ambrose and Miles don’t exactly look alike, not to mention that Ambrose is a young man who was born in the early 80s. Given Akinmusire’s age, the picture the record label used was taken in the 2000s. For context, Miles was in his mid to late 20s in the early 50s. They were only off by more than half a century…
Several years ago, Bass Player magazine ran a feature story on Paul Chambers, giving him the cover. One problem, the guy on the cover wasn’t Paul Chambers. It was Doug Watkins. Is that a firable offense? Bass player magazine not being able to identify one of the most prolific bass players in history is inexcusable. I’m waiting for Jazz Times to have a Louis Armstrong tribute issue with Bix Beiderbecke on the cover.
When you google Fela Kuti, the first few images are actually Femi Kuti. Some Wilson Pickett photos are labeled as Jimi Hendrix and vice versa. I could go on and on, but there is so much wrong information out there it’s scary. The misinformation is now becoming the standard, and it feels like combating it is an uphill battle. The internet has been a godsend for the amount of information available at your fingertips, but it’s also been a nightmare since you can’t stop misinformation from filtering through because the floodgates are open. You can’t say “google it” anymore, because a lot of what comes up in google search is wrong.
That said, it’s kind of sad that outfits who should know better (Bass Player magazine!) make these types of mistakes. The carelessness is a top down thing. From music labels, to magazines to tumblr. It’s everywhere, and I hate being the guy who harps on it, but it’s getting to me. Recently there was an obituary for Marva Whitney that used an image of the very much alive Betty Davis. When I saw the obituary notice and the iconic image of Betty Davis, my heart sank. I thought Betty Davis was dead, until I read it was for Marva Whitney. You can’t be reckless when putting out that kind of information, especially with matters of death.
Before that someone put up a picture of Blue Mitchell as Lee Morgan. And we all know that Billie Holiday was a young twenty something year old trumpeter in the 60s according to pictures on the internet, even though she would have been close to her 50s at that point. Oh, and Billie Holiday died in 1959. She came back as a foxy ghost in the 60s apparently and miraculously shaved a few decades off. Black don’t crack, even in death.
Funny story: Last year I was at the Blue Note club, and there were flyers for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I kid you not, someone asked me what time Duke Ellington was performing. I thought I was on one of those hidden camera shows and remember thinking how lame this prank was, but he was sincere in asking. No big deal, he didn’t know, so I told him Duke had been dead for almost 40 years, and that if he was still alive, he would be like 113 years old. The Orchestra, like many Orchestras is in name only and they play the music of the composer they are named after. Does anyone go to a Mingus Big Band show expecting Charles Mingus to walk out on stage? I don’t walk down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard expecting MLK to be standing on the corner. It would really be something to see a 113 year old guy still touring and putting on concerts though. Even after death, some people still want black folks to put in work! :P
Anyway, back to the “lost recordings” of Miles Davis album. A record label putting out a Miles Davis record doesn’t know what Miles Davis looked like! HOLY SHIT! To quote Amy Winehouse - "What kind of fuckery is this?"