Today’s Birthday: Miles Dewey Davis III

Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois. Mr. Davis was and remains one of the most important and influential figures in music. He was a trumpet player, bandleader, and composer. I saw him perform twice, once in a huge stadium, the second time from the third row in a small theater. Some concert experiences change the viewer/listener. Miles Davis sure changed me. In his honor and in reverent reference to his Sketches of Spain, I give you the post I wrote after we visited the Mezquita in Córdoba. – Jadi

Uwe’s camera always captures the exquisite details

We began our trip to southern Spain in Granada. When I stood inside Granada’s Cathedral, I suddenly – and very vividly – remembered what and how I’d seen it 40 years earlier. At the Alhambra, my memories were blurry remembrances of running water.

A few days later in Córdoba, I had a further experience with spatial imprinting. We spent a half day in the Mezquita, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The outer wall to the Mezquita, Córdoba
A door to the Mezquita, Córdoba

The Mezquita was first built in the mid-6th century as a Visogoth church, built up in the 780s as The Great Mosque of Córdoba, and finally re-dedicated as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción) in 1236. The Mezquita’s altar incorporates and blends Catholic iconography and design into the original Moorish structure.

The early Muslim prayer hall is filled with rows of arches in colored bands of stone. They seem to stretch into Eternity.

This hypostyle hall (meaning that the roof rests on pillars) contains a grand 856 columns of finest jasper, marble, onyx and granite. These columns are topped with the arches, which are futher topped with more arches.

No, this is not a repeat of the earlier photo. This angle gazes in another direction in the prayer hall

If Granada’s Cathedral is all soaring heights, the Mezquita in Córdoba is an endless repetition of forms. Gaze in any direction and turn your body in a slow circle. The repeating arches always bring the viewer back to the beginning again.

I didn’t know until later that Uwe had photographed me, standing quiet in awed delight

The repeating patterns are beautiful. They’re haunting, too; it’s no accident that what I recall best from my first trip to Andalusia are deeply buried memories of graceful forms in plaster, stone and tiles.

What would I say if you were to ask me to select one thing I remember most after my first visit to the Mezquita as a teenager, all those years ago? I’d say: A sense of wonder.

Islamic architects and artists are masters of geometric decoration. Their patterns’ deeper purpose is to bring visitors and viewers to a sense of another, underlying reality. Maybe it’s just the beauty in the world. Perhaps it’s the presence of God. I’m perfectly fine with either explanation.

The mihrab niche. The Mezquita’s mihrab ((Arabic: محراب‎‎ miḥrāb) is exceptional because it points south rather than southeast and to Mecca

I rediscovered the whimsical and the wondrous as I gazed at repeating, interlocking, intertwined squares, circles, triangles, flowers, tessellations and stars.

Artwork both secular and sacred is woven into every stroke of calligraphy that embellishes gorgeous walls and doorways and niches at both the Alhambra and in Córdoba. The effect is one of standing in a house of mirrors or an echo chamber with lights and patterns extending on and out into Forever.

No single detail stayed. Just… a fleeting glimpse of the Divine.

In memory of Miles Davis, May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991. And how could I highlight this post in any color other than Kind of Blue?

NOTES: Sacred Geometry; Crystalinks; Islamic geometric patterns. © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as Andalusia Memories 3: Cordoba and the Arches of Infinity All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography may be viewed at  Go to my earlier posts to read more about our visit to Andalusia.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, The Trail Back Out and Grounded.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.


5 thoughts on “Today’s Birthday: Miles Dewey Davis III”

  1. Oh wow! Two things I love — Miles Davis’ music and the cathedrals of Spain (all of Europe for that matter) I remember once walking into BCE Place in downtown Toronto and listening to my footsteps echo on the marble floors – I was immediately transported to the cathedral in Reims — and a thought burst into my mind — centuries ago we built cathedrals to honour a mysterious unseen God above. Now we build them honour our new god — money. LOL — thank you for that memory — I had totally forgotten it! 🙂

  2. Listening to Davis III live, one can already say that he won the lottery. A unique and unforgettable experience for Jazz lovers. The photos of your trip to Spain are spectacular. They provide the perfect setting for your story. Have a happy Friday Jade

    1. Hearing him live (and close up – from the center of a theater’s third row!) was the experience being inspired and slightly insane for a few hours

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