Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas To Honor Miles Davis At All-Day Tribute

New York Wall to Wall marathon offers free 12-hour program of trumpeter's music.

NEW YORK —It's like Ken Burns' "Jazz" turned inside-out.

Rather than galloping through the length and breadth of jazz, Symphony Space's 31st annual Wall to Wall music marathon will concentrate on a single visionary — Miles Davis — during a free 12-hour program presented March 24 beginning at noon.

The music of Davis, whose prolific career influenced jazz at nearly every turn, will be performed by more than 100 artists during six two-hour programs, with each segment deliberately criss-crossing different periods of the trumpeter's legacy — early-'50s cool jazz, late-'50s modal jazz and bop, early-'60s hard bop, mid-'60s smooth balladry and '70s funk and fusion — while celebrating Davis' subtle, soulful and freewheeling spirit.

"It's a very forward-looking event," Wall to Wall curator Bill Bragin said. "The performers will extend and mutate the repertory in different directions — just as Miles did."

The lineup consists in large part of musicians affiliated with New York's Downtown jazz scene. Confirmed participants include genre-bending guitarist Bill Frisell, Bronx turntablist DJ Logic, bassist Melvin Gibbs, drummers Jeff "Tain" Watts and Jimmy Cobb, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, cornetist Graham Haynes, clarinetist Don Byron, pianist Uri Caine, guitarist Vernon Reid, trumpeter Steven Bernstein and Sex Mob, Latin jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeters Dave Douglas, Russell Gunn and Eddie Henderson.

Ashley Kahn, author of the recent behind-the-scenes narrative "Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece," will speak about the trumpeter, who died in 1991. Others will read passages from Davis' 1990 autobiography, "Miles," in order to bridge each musical segment with Davis' own voice.

Past Wall to Wall programs have honored such landmark composers as Bach, Kurt Weill and John Cage. This year's program will be the second to pay tribute to a jazz composer — Duke Ellington was 1991's subject.

Last year's Wall to Wall drew 4,000 concertgoers to the 800-seat venue throughout the day. Given Davis' widespread recognition, Bragin expects to draw even more people this year.

The entire program will be broadcast live on WBGO 88.3 FM. In May, National Public Radio's Branford Marsalis-hosted program "Jazzset" will air highlights to celebrate what would have been Davis' 75th birthday.

Burns, whose PBS documentary has been both lauded and criticized, produced the retrospective disc The Definitive Miles Davis, which is #12 on Billboard magazine's jazz chart.