JAZZPAR Artists - Johnny Coles
   Johnny Coles (US), 1926-1997, performed with Prize Winner Geri Allen and The JAZZPAR 1996 Nonet.

   Johnny Coles was an autodidact. Since the mid 40s he had played with a number of bands, and from 1958 to 1964 he was often featured as a soloist with Gil Evans. During the same period he took part in the recordings of the historic collaboration between Miles Davis and Gil Evans. On tour with the Charles Mingus combo Coles came to Copenhagen, among other places, in 1964. Duke Ellington too, from 1971 until his death in 74, made good use of Coles' special talents.
   A series of recordings show Coles as a considerable soloist who had both his heart and his brain in the right place in his music. There are particular grounds to underline his at the same time melodic and usually varied phrasing, the sometimes inventively twisted sequences of notes and then almost simple sketches. One thinks of the art of hinting at things. An ability to vary the sounds and an expressive, warm tone are also characteristic.
   Coles could also have a tough tongue when he wanted to. He ranged from a melodic flow to rhythmic assertiveness. And from the recordings one knows him as a musician who had his technique well in place. Coles often made particular mention of Miles Davis as his favorite. There is no question that Johnny Coles had derived a very personal and variegated style from that source of inspiration.

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