Miles Davis, Bass
My parents weren’t cool enough to know about the famous one. They didn’t even really listen to Jazz. I was named after my grandfather, Miles Perkins.
How long have you been playing the Bass?
Since I was 10 Years old, so 56 years! I grew up in Dayton, Ohio (home of the Wright Brothers). In Dayton, there was still music in the public schools, and if you wanted to play an instrument you could start in 4th grade. Originally, I wanted to play the Clarinet, but, was the only kid big enough to play Bass. So there was a sales pitch to get me on Bass. I liked the Bass because I could play with the older kids, which was challenging, but, also felt better. I was constantly competing with my older brother, so this played into that.
Who/what gave you the passion to pursue music as a career? Why? How?
I always wanted to be a musician. I remember when I as 6 and had to play on a piano class recital. I played a piece called “Zoo, Zoo, See the Zoo.” I finished the piece, got up and saw everyone applauding and thought, this is pretty cool. Then when I was in high school, Jerry Holesovsky, father of Jimmy Holesovsky, conducted our All-City Orchestra. He pulled me aside and asked if I had plans for college and suggested a place where his son had attended, and that place just so happened to be the Curtis Institute of Music. So literally, my relationship with the Chamber Orchestra stems back to the father of one of it’s fondest founding members, Jimmy Holesovsky.
Where are you originally from?
Dayton, Ohio – Home of the National Cash Register
Do you still talk with childhood friends?
I’ve lost touch with many, however, I have a friend who was a tenor, Jon Fredric West, with whom I kept in touch for quite some time.
Do you have a funny stage story?
Last concert, after intermission my bass partner and I thought the next piece up was the Mooke concerto when it was actually Fauré’s Pelleas et Melisande Suite. This never happens to Annie or I, so we scrambled to get the right work out. When we got off stage, we laughed and laughed.
I came to Philadelphia for Curtis Institute, but, when I got out of school I lived a wonderful Bohemian life. A few of my classmates and I played classical music on Chestnut Street and lived day to day on our earnings. A couple of years after graduating, I auditioned and got the job at the Chamber Orchestra (1976). At the time, COP was very busy as it was the catch all for freelancers and opened many doors to other performance opportunities.
Outside of music, what do you love about Philadelphia?
I love the fact that the downtown is vital and accessible. My wife and I live at 13th and Pine and I can get everything I need within a few blocks. I wheel my Bass wherever I go. I often daydream in rehearsal about what I want for dinner and can grab the stuff to make it on my walk home.
My wife Susan and I are retiring to Santa Fe NM in two seasons. Susan is an architect and public art consultant.
Favorite Philadelphia attraction?
Mütter Museum because of all the bizarre stuff. I grew up on Mad Magazine.
Favorite Philadelphia food?
Scrapple – Love the PA Dutch side of the Reading Terminal Market.
I’d have to say Tony Luke’s.
Describe your perfect day off.
Oh gosh, my perfect day off. Staying up late the night before having taken a hot bath, going up to bed with my iPad to read, waking up late and going through the news. Having a nice brunch, and asking my wife what we’re going to do for fun. Going for a walk with my wife, or a ride out to the suburbs. I love going to Reading Terminal or Italian Market. Then planning and cooking dinner and watching something on TV, possibly The Crown.
What music do you listen to? If something other than classical, what?
Oh, Jazz. I love Classic Jazz and listen to Bob Perkins on WRTI. And yes, my favorite jazz musician is Miles Davis.
If you could have been anything other than a musician, what would that be and why?
Well, I don’t know if I should say this, but the only other thing I wanted to be was a funeral director. Why? Well, because my grandfather was the Vice-President of a small town bank, and knew everyone in town. When I would stay with them, we would always go to the funerals of his many friends, and I became interested in the morticians who were kind of like stage directors at the funeral homes. Was it a young kids interest in death and corpses? Perhaps that’s why I like the Mütter Museum, haha!