The old aphorism, “less is more,” is something we are always told, yet seeing it dutifully applied is seldom and far between. It can seem like a statement that is meant to lull the victim into a false sense of security, encouraging them to hold back, only to let the next guy swoop in and take the cake. If you want to see a good example, however, one that can truly attest to the power of the phrase, Miles Davis wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Via The New York Times:
It’s difficult to characterize music in simple, sweeping terms. Davis explored numerous styles in a catalog that spanned decades; change defined him as much as his Harmon mute. But in the 1950s he started moving away from the early bebop of his mentor and band mate Charlie Parker to explore a leaner sound. Rather than squeezing as many notes and changes into solos as possible, Davis dispensed with clutter and ornamentation and pared his mode of expression down to one defined as much by the notes and phrases he played as by the silences left between them. As the critic Stanley Crouch once observed: “Part of his genius as a musician was that he edited what he heard Charlie Parker play.”
Check out this excerpt from Davis’ 60 Minutes interview below.