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Miles Davis: An UNKNOWN 1955 Radio Interview
Only heard in Sweden!
Claes Dahlgren was a Swedish jazz journalist and radio host who lived in New York City from 1949 onward. As such he was in a key position to interview American jazz artists for Swedish listeners, and to introduce them to the latest American jazz recordings. He conducted this interview with Miles Davis in NBC radio’s NYC studio, in order to get professional sound quality, on September 9, 1955. Shortly afterward, it was broadcast in Sweden, and it has been heard only there, and rarely, since then. (For example, part of the interview was rebroadcast on September 13. 1957—thanks to Miles researcher Jan Lohmann for this detail). It has never been heard in the U.S.A.
The date is significant, because as I explained in my first essay on Miles’s voice, people had already observed some hoarseness in his speaking earlier in 1955, and it is noticeable in this recording. It appears that he had vocal surgery (the first of several) to attempt to relieve the hoarseness in October or November, 1955. Remember, on November 18 (that is, after midnight on the 17th) he told Steve Allen on national television that he “had an operation on my throat.” So the surgery happened before then.
Nevertheless, there is a good-natured tone to this conversation, with Miles and Claes each occasionally breaking into quiet laughter. They discuss the current jazz scene. Miles refers to Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, and Cannonball Adderley, and raves about Swedish pianist Bengt Hallberg. He explains that he got started on trumpet at 14 and tried to learn “Star Dust.” They also talk about boxing. Miles’s current album, The Musings of Miles on Prestige, is mentioned. It was recorded June 7, 1955, and it had just been released, so Dahlgren was certainly the first to play it for a Swedish audience. At the end of this audio segment, Dahlgren summarizes the preceding interview in Swedish.
We are able to hear this recording thanks to the generosity of The Claes Dahlgren Collection at The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research (Svenskt visarkiv). I want to personally thank Wictor Johansson, head of the audiovisual collections, and Jörgen Adolfsson, research archivist and musician, for their kind assistance.
Please Note that permission was given Only for the audio to appear in this newsletter—no other copying or publishing of this recording is allowed without prior approval. Let us all please honor this, in which case more interviews will be coming your way. (I promise you that some of them are quite amazing!) In short, do not post the audio of this interview anywhere else—but do feel free to share the link to this page with everyone you know!
Here’s the interview— enjoy it!:
All the best,
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