Flashback to New York’s 52nd Street circa 1948 at the Five Spot: Miles Davis and Charlie Parker are scorching through a set while an elbow-room-only crowd unknowingly bears witness to a defining moment in American culture. Bebop in all its glory had arrived.
This scene and others are the kind of storytelling delivered from Les Davis on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Pure Jazz channel. He’s one of a seasoned group of air personalities cherry-picked to lead the company’s four million listeners through the jazz canon. Davis isn’t there merely to announce who played on the record; a 40-year veteran of the jazz scene, he’s more like a travel guide nudging the listener along through the nuances of improvisation and offering biographical sketches of the performers who define jazz. “As in the renaissance, there were certain years when the talent was remarkable,” Davis says. “And they had personalities that were edgy or eccentric. You not only came to see and hear Miles play, but who knows what he might do.”