Harmony Holiday on Jean-Michel Basquiat, Miles Davis, and a daughter's love of jazz

‘A portrait of Miles Davis by Basquiat spreads out like rumors of other fathers.’

In an edition of Harmony Holiday’s Black Music and Black Muses newsletter, the poet discussed her love of jazz through the works of Miles Davis via Jean-Michel Basquiat and many others, as a “daughter”:

Women aren’t supposed to love jazz music as much as I do, or to idolize its most dangerous archangel, or to recognize how all the hell he raised and leveled protects us from the very versions of ourselves that would fall for him at his worst. Every single Miles Davis note is repentant and mean, with an unforgivable allure that transports you beyond your own temperament and his. And then here he remains, in the center of a blizzard, wound up like a clock and keeping time and refusing any other costume but his own timing, while also too cool to be humiliated by how exposed he is, and how hidden. None of my fathers, native or chosen, are particularly lenient or comforting in traditional paternal ways. I choose the ones who can walk me through horror and wonder unscathed, who are so motivated by beauty they objectify everything to access it. King Pleasure is arranged a bit like a haunted house, like home, like them. You have to wind your way through its labyrinthine consciousness in one direction, with no chance for double takes. And Miles is the crossroads blues— abandoned, grabbing your hand with his lopsided ear as it morphs into his horn or his pawn, to show you something. He’s pensive and disappearing to show you something. 

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