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Gunn's Latest CD Puts Fresh Twist on Miles Davis Classics


Trumpeter Russell Gunn had all the makings of a contemporary hip-hop artist until 1994, when he was hired to perform with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Since then, Gunn's jazz career has been nothing less than stellar even though he has never abandoned his hip-hop roots. VOA's Doug Levine tells us about Russell Gunn's latest effort, a tribute album to the master of jazz-fusion, trumpeter Miles Davis.

When you hear the name Miles Davis, you don't often think of rock or funk music. But, in the free-jazz era of the 1960s and early-'70s, even Miles was not immune to rock's electronic influences.

Miles' so-called "cool jazz" sound was music to the ears of Russell Gunn, who first picked up the trumpet at age 10. Although he played in his school band hoping to someday become a hip-hop musician, his passion for jazz was too strong. After a two-year stint on a music scholarship at Jackson State University in Mississippi, Gunn was back home honing his jazz skills in East St. Louis, Illinois. But, as Gunn recalls, "One day I'm in East St. Louis doing nothing, and the next thing you know, the very next week, I'm at Lincoln Center (performing). It was an eye-opening experience."

Russell Gunn's long-awaited new album, Russell Gunn plays Miles features some of Miles Davis' most compelling pieces, including "All Blues." Miles composed it for "Kind Of Blue," regarded as the best-selling jazz album of all time.

Also included are the title tracks from two other classic Miles Davis albums, Bitches Brew and Tutu, as well as the Latin-flavored Eighty-One, the Miles Davis ballad "Blue In Green," and a Russell Gunn original titled "New New Blues."

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