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Bob Belden: Eastern Promise

Bob Belden
Badal Roy

Miles Davis performed in numerous countries throughout his half-century career, but India wasn’t one of them. He touched down there once, just long enough to refuel during a lengthy transcontinental flight, but never left the tarmac. Had he done so, says Bob Belden, producer of Miles From India-an ambitious new double-CD that teams 18 Davis alumni and nearly as many Indian musicians to re-imagine Miles’ music-he might have learned that in India, as in so many other places in this world, he is considered a legend.

The reason for that, explains Belden, is not so much that India has a sizable community of jazz enthusiasts-it doesn’t, yet-but rather that Miles, for a brief period in the early 1970s, hired two Indian musicians, sitarist Khalil Balakrishna and tabla drummer Badal Roy. The pair added Eastern flavorings to sessions that would ultimately comprise such Miles earthshakers as On the Corner, Big Fun and Get Up With It, and the Indians respected Davis’ willingness to expand the ways in which their traditional instrumentation could be utilized.

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Originally Published

Jeff Tamarkin

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Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.