Let us now praise Miles Davis. Had it not been for his strength in pulling Sunday's Hollywood Bowl concert out of the doldrums, the disastrous events of the first two hours could never have been counteracted.
Tommy Hawkins, the host, announced this at the JVC Jazz Festival, thus trivializing a word that is now applied to a single, non-festive concert. The opening group, starting 20 minutes late, called itself the Hidden City String Band, an odd name for a trio composed of one violin, a percussionist who played bongos and tabla, and a guitarist. Its three-tune 20 minute appearance offered too few chances to assess any latent potential.
Off with the string band, on with--nothing. For 40 minutes all we heard was hammering, feedback, silence, and an apology for the delay due to "technical difficulties"--an embarrassing touch, since Hawkins had promised "the very best in audio and video" and the sponsor was a company involved with sound reproduction.
Finally, on with Pieces of a Dream. The former trio, now a quintet equipped with guitar and synthesizers, trudged through 40 minutes of tepid tunes, flashy keyboard by James Lloyd, and lyrical drivel sung by the bassist, Cedric Napoleon. For a grand finale we were invited to take part in a sing-along, intoning the words "Say la la."