On May 26th, we celebrated Miles Davis’ 88th birthday in the best way we could possibly imagine– with about 1,000 people on the street of his former residence. It wasn’t just any day. It was the day. It was even as if the sky knew it. On a beautiful afternoon with nothing but blue skies and gorgeous weather, 77th Street off West End Ave was renamed Miles Davis Way.

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Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay

One of the last bills to be signed by Mayor Bloomberg before he left office was an ordinance to name the street for the legend, Miles Davis, an effort spearheaded by local resident Shirley Zafirau. Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, coordinated the extraordinary event, which happened as a true come-together in honor and celebration of Miles Davis’ life and legacy. Not only that, we loved how much the spirit of community was a part of the occasion with loving remarks and personal stories shared by those who knew and loved him well. One after the other, participants such as Jimmy Heath, Wallace Roney, Jimmy Cobb, Cicely Tyson, John Amos, T.S. Monk, Lenny White, Melba Joyce, and more shared personal testimonies and rare moments-– some of which were also absolutely hilarious-– in tribute to the man and the music.

Erin Davis, Cheryl Davis, Cicely Tyson, Vince Wilburn Jr.

Erin Davis, Cheryl Davis, Cicely Tyson, Vince Wilburn Jr. – Photo Credit Jati Lindsay

The great Jimmy Heath

The Great Jimmy Heath – Photo Credit Jati Lindsay

Photo Credit: Brandi Pettijohn

Photo Credit: Brandi Pettijohn

Judging from the loving remarks and personal stories that were shared, the consensus was that it has always been “Miles Davis’ Way”– and now we all know it. As the great Jimmy Heath put it, “They are naming this Miles Davis Way. And he did get his way.”

Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay

Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay

There is so much that has been said (and will continue to be said) about what is jazz, what it was, and what it can or will be, but we know one thing, for sure. No matter what, jazz is a community and we are grateful to have been present for such a historic moment in such great company. It was certainly a great day on Miles Davis Way.

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Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay

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Photo Credit: Brandi PettiJohn

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