Working with Miles
About a year after first meeting Miles at the club, I got a call to record with him. I was in New York working with a bunch of different musicians when I got the call to work with Miles and record some of "Bitches Brew". Afterwards Miles invited me to sit in with the band at The Village Gate, in the village the next night.
Wow! That place the Village Gate was a beautiful club. I went there, but did not want to impose by bringing all my percussion. So I didn't't bring any. I took the train all the way from Walter Booker's house (He was the bass player with Cannonball Adderley ) which was at 87th to the club downtown in the village.
This time when I walked in the club my name was on the guest list and they let me in. The group was already on stage and when Miles saw me he left the stage and came to talk to me. It was amazing; everyone was looking at me, wondering who I was. Who is that guy?
"OK, Here you are! Where is all your shit? Did you bring your shit?" Miles asked me.
I explained "Well, I didn't't bring it; I didn't't want to impose…."
Miles was furious "Shut up!" he shouted, "Get out of here!" he continued "You're jive! You're jive! Just get out of here! You can't stay here".
I was shocked and just left and ran to the subway. I took the train all the way back to 87th from 3rd. When I got there I ran upstairs and picked up some of my percussion, two boxes full, and ran back to the subway, which I took all the way back to the club. When I got back there they were on a break and had one more set to go. I had no idea what to do. I couldn't't just walk backstage and say "Here I am Miles!" I still was remembering what happened earlier. Then I saw DeJohnette, you know the drummer, and Dave Holland the bass player. So I went over and started talking to them. They asked if I was going to play and I said that I had brought my stuff, and it ended up with them helping me figure out where I should set myself up on the stage.
They were really nice and receptive, while Miles was looking at me with a bad face, like "What are you doing!" He was trying to intimidate me. Well, maybe not trying, but he was intimidating me. I ended up sitting on a chair right in front of the drums, a little to the right, and just behind Miles. I played the whole set from there. Later Miles asked me if I wanted to come back the next day and of course I said yes.
"OK!" He said, "We'll be here."
So the next day I was there for the first set with all my percussion.
Anyway, a week or so later I did some more recording with Miles and he invited me to go to Washington DC.
"Do you want to go to Washington DC with me?"
"Yeah!" I said
"OK, well we are going to be there for two weeks playing at The Cellar Door, but you aren't't going to make any money. We can't pay you any money."
"That's OK, I haven't made any money for a year and a half now, and I guess I can go two weeks longer."
"You can go in the bus with the band." Miles added.
So I showed up at Miles place to get on the bus and Miles drove his Lamborghini with his beautiful model girlfriend. It was a nice big bus though. So that was it! I was playing 2 weeks at The Cellar Door with Miles Davis.
All of a sudden everyone was talking about me. The Reviews were, "Who is this guy from Brazil? This incredible percussionist who has things we have never seen before." All sorts of stuff like that. I had real long hair back then and I would sit in a chair with my instruments on the floor and the microphone really low to the ground. I would play leaning over with my hair covering my face. This made it so that I never had to look at anyone, especially Miles. Miles would come near me on stage to check out what I was doing, and I could see his boots. Usually he was wearing the most beautiful boots. Anyway, I would only see his feet. I never looked up, I just kept playing. I remember one day he got down on his knee and was looking into my face, and I just wouldn't't look at him. Then he said "Are you crazy? You are crazy, you crazy Brazilian." And I said "You're a crazy American".
He didn't't laugh, but I guess he liked that because Miles I think really enjoyed seeing if he could scare people. Anybody, musicians or not, he would look at them like he was going to kill them. Then as soon as they got scared it was like, I got you, I figured you out. I saw him do this to lots of people. I saw him do this to musicians and then fire them if they got scared. I think he was trying not to have people around him who were using him, because he was Miles Davis, or whatever. People who just wanted to be seen with him because he was Miles. People who wanted to say they were "Hanging out" with Miles.
So he didn't't treat people that well because of that. Then when someone was for real, he would see it. I was scared the first time I met him, but then I got over it and there I was playing with him.
He never really hired me though, or fired me. Someday I will write the story about how I left the band, which is an interesting and intensely emotion moment.