Miles Davis – On The Corner (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgOn the Corner is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It was recorded in June and July 1972 and released later that year by Columbia Records. The album continued Davis’s exploration of jazz fusion, bringing together funk rhythms with the influence of experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman.On the Corner is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It was recorded in June and July 1972 and released later that year by Columbia Records. The album continued Davis’s exploration of jazz fusion, bringing together funk rhythms with the influence of experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman.
Recording sessions for the album featured a changing lineup of musicians including bassist Michael Henderson, guitarist John McLaughlin, and keyboardist Herbie Hancock, with Davis playing the electric organ more prominently than his trumpet. Various takes from the sessions were then spliced together using the tape editing techniques of producer Teo Macero. The album’s packaging did not credit any musicians, an attempt to make the instruments less discernible to critics. Its artwork features Corky McCoy’s cartoon designs of urban African-American characters.
On the Corner was in part an effort by Davis to reach a younger African American audience who had left jazz for funk and rock and roll. Instead, it became one of his worst-selling albums and was scorned by jazz critics at the time of its release. It would be Davis’s last studio album of the 1970s conceived as a complete work;

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subsequently, he recorded haphazardly and focused instead on live performance before temporarily retiring from music in 1975.
The critical standing of On the Corner has improved dramatically with the passage of time.[3] Many outside the jazz community later called it an innovative musical statement and forerunner to subsequent funk, jazz, post-punk, electronica, and hip hop. In 2007, On the Corner was reissued as part of the 6-disc box set The Complete On the Corner Sessions, joining previous multi-disc Davis reissues.

Following his turn to fusion in the late 1960s and the release of rock- and funk-influenced albums such as Bitches Brew (1970) and Jack Johnson (1970), Miles Davis received substantial criticism from the jazz community. Critics accused him of abandoning his talents and pandering to commercial trends, though his recent albums had been commercially unsuccessful by his standards. Other jazz contemporaries, such as Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Gil Evans defended Davis; the latter stated that “jazz has always used the rhythm of the time, whatever people danced to”. In early 1972, Davis began conceiving On the Corner as an attempt to reconnect with the young African-American audience which had largely forsaken jazz for the groove-based music of Sly and the Family Stone and James Brown. In an interview with Melody Maker, Davis stated that
“I don’t care who buys the record so long as they get to the Black people so I will be remembered when I die. I’m not playing for any white people, man. I wanna hear a black guy say ‘Yeah, I dig Miles Davis.'”

Michael Henderson

Michael Henderson

Also cited as an influence by Davis was the work of experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, in particular his forays into electronic music and tape manipulation. Davis was first introduced to Stockhausen’s work in 1972 by collaborator Paul Buckmaster, and the trumpeter reportedly kept a cassette recording of the 1966–67 Hymnen composition in his Lamborghini sports car. Some concepts from Stockhausen that appealed to Davis included the electronic sound processing found in Hymnen and the 1966 piece Telemusik, and the development of musical structures by expanding and minimizing processes based on preconceived principles—as featured in Plus-Minus and other Stockhausen works from the 1960s and early 1970s. Davis began to apply these ideas to his music by adding and taking away instrumentalists and other aural elements throughout a recording to create a progressively changing soundscape. Speaking about Stockhausen’s influence, Davis later wrote in his autobiography:

“I had always written in a circular way and through Stockhausen I could see that I didn’t want to ever play again from eight bars to eight bars, because I never end songs: they just keep going on. Through Stockhausen I understood music as a process of elimination and addition.”

The work of Buckmaster (who played electric cello on the album and contributed some arrangements) and the “harmolodics” of saxophonist Ornette Coleman would also be an influence on the album. In his biography, Davis later described On the Corner with the formula “Stockhausen plus funk plus Ornette Coleman.” Using this conceptual framework, Davis reconciled ideas from contemporary art music composition, jazz performance, and rhythm-based dance music.Recording and productionBassist Michael Henderson was a fixture throughout the recording sessions.
Recording sessions began in June 1972. Both sides of the record consisted of repetitive Miles Davis02drum and bass grooves based around a one-chord modal approach, with the final cut culled from hours of jams featuring changing personnel lineups underpinned by bassist Michael Henderson. Other musicians involved in the recording included guitarist John McLaughlin, drummers Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart, and keyboardists Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. On the Corner utilized three keyboardists like Bitches Brew while pairing Hart—who had played in Hancock’s Mwandishi-era band—with DeJohnette and two percussionists. Hancock’s reed player, Bennie Maupin, played bass clarinet and Dave Liebman was recruited as saxophonist. Jazz historian Robert Gluck later discussed the performance:
“The recording functions on two layers: a relatively static, dense thicket of rhythmic pulse provided by McLaughlin’s percussive guitar attack, the multiple percussionists, and Henderson’s funky bass lines, plus keyboard swirls on which the horn players solo. Segments of tabla and sitar provide a change of mood and pace. Aside from ‘Black Satin,’ most of the material consists of intense vamps and rhythmic layering.”

Compared to Davis’ previous recordings, On the Corner found the musician playing the trumpet scarcely, instead often playing keyboards. It also saw his producer, Teo Macero, employ cut-and-splice tape editing procedures (pioneered in the late 1960s on In a Silent Way) to combine various takes in creating a single cohesive work. which also allowed Macero and Davis to overdub and add effects. Some of the musicians expressed misgivings about the unconventional musical direction of the sessions: Liebman opined that “the music appeared to be pretty chaotic and disorganized,” while Buckmaster stated that “it was my least favorite Miles album.”Packaging and release
The album cover featured an illustration by cartoonist Corky McCoy depicting ghetto caricatures, including prostitutes, gays, activists, winos, and drug dealers. The packaging only featured one stylized photograph of Davis, and was originally released with no musician credits, leading to ongoing confusion about which musicians appeared on the album. Davis later admitted to doing this intentionally: “I didn’t put those names on On the Corner specially for that reason, so now the critics have to say, ‘What’s this instrument, and what’s this? … I’m not even gonna put my picture on albums anymore. Pictures are dead, man. You close your eyes and you’re there.”

Track Sheet

Track sheet

Upon its release, the album’s commercial success was as limited as that of Davis’s albums since Bitches Brew, topping the Billboard jazz chart but only peaking at #156 in the more heterogeneous Billboard 200. Paul Tingen wrote that “predictably, this impenetrable and almost tuneless concoction of avant-garde classical, free jazz, African, Indian and acid funk bombed spectacularly, leading to decades in the wilderness. As far as the jazzers were concerned, it completed Davis’s journey from icon to fallen idol.”[1]Reception and legacyInitial response
On the Corner was panned by most critics and contemporaries in jazz; according to Tingen, it became “the most vilified and controversial album in the history of jazz” only a few weeks after its release. Saxophonist Stan Getz proclaimed “that music is worthless. It means nothing; there is no form, no content, and it barely swings.” Jazz Journal critic Jon TShirtBrown wrote, “it sounds merely as if the band had selected a chord and decided to worry hell out of it for three-quarters of an hour,” concluding that “I’d like to think that nobody could be so easily pleased as to dig this record to any extent.” Eugene Chadbourne, writing for jazz magazine CODA, described it as “pure arrogance.” In his 1974 biography of Davis, critic Bill Coleman described the album as “an insult to the intellect of the people.” Rock journalist Robert Christgau later suggested that jazz critics were not receptive to On the Corner “because the improvisations are rhythmic rather than melodic” and Davis played the organ more than trumpet. Regarding the appeal its music had for rock critics, he praised “Black Satin” but expressed reservations about the absence of a “good” beat elsewhere on the album. In a positive review for Rolling Stone, Ralph J. Gleason found the music very “lyrical and rhythmic” while praising the dynamic stereo recording and calling Davis “a magician”. He concluded by saying “the impact of the whole is greater than the sum of any part.”

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Despite remaining outside the purview of the mainstream jazz community, On the Corner has undergone a critical rehabilitation in recent years, with many critics outside jazz characterizing it as “a visionary musical statement that was way ahead of its time”. In 2014, Stereogum hailed it as “one of the greatest records of the 20th Century, and easily one of Miles Davis’ most astonishing achievements,” noting the album’s mix of “funk guitars, Indian percussion, dub production techniques, loops that predict hip hop.” According to Alternative Press, the “essential masterpiece” envisioned much of modern popular music, “representing the high water mark of [Davis’] experiments in the fusion of rock, funk, electronica and jazz”. Fact characterized the album as “a frenetic and punky record, radical in its use of studio technology,” adding that “the debt that the modern dance floor owes the pounding abstractions of On the Corner has yet to be fully understood.”  Writing for The Vinyl Factory, Anton Spice described it as “the great great grandfather of hip-hop, IDM, jungle, post-rock and other styles drawing meaning from repetition.”

In a positive review for The Wire, critic Mark Fisher wrote that “the passing of time often neutralises and naturalises sounds that were once experimental, but retrospection has not made On the Corner ‘s roiling, febrile, bilious stew any easier to digest.”[16] Stylus Magazine’s Chris Smith wrote that the record’s music anticipated musical principles that abandoned a focus on a single soloist in favor of collective playing: “At times harshly minimal, at others expansive and dense, it upset quite a few people. You could call it punk.” On the Corner was cited by SF Weekly as prefiguring subsequent funk, jazz, post-punk, electronica, and hip hop. According to AllMusic’s Thom Jurek, “the music on the album itself influenced – either positively or negatively – every single thing that came after it in jazz, rock, soul, funk, hip-hop, electronic and dance music, ambient music, and even popular world music, directly or indirectly.” BBC Music reviewer Chris Jones expressed the view that the music and production techniques of On the Corner “prefigured and in some cases gave birth to nu-jazz, jazz funk, experimental jazz, ambient and even world music.” Pitchfork described the album as “longing, passion and rage milked from the primal source and heading into the dark beyond.”
Fact named On the Corner the 11th best album of the 1970s, while Pitchfork named the album the 30th best album of that decade. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Don Alias (drums, percussion)
Khalil Balakrishna (sitar)
Chick Corea (keyboards)
Dave Creamer (guitar)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Al Foster (drums)
Carlos Garnett (saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (keyboards)
Billy Hart (drums)
Michael Henderson (bass)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Cedric Lawson (organ)
Dave Liebman (saxophone)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
Bennie Maupin (clarinet)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
James Mtume (percussion)
Badal Roy (tabla)
Collin Walcott (sitar)
Harold Ivory Williams (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. On The Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin’ One Thing And Doin’ Another/Vote For Miles 19.59
02. Black Satin 5.20
03. One And One 6.09
05. Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X 23.18

All compositions written by Miles Davis

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Miles Davis – Jack Johnson (OST) (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgJack Johnson, later reissued as A Tribute to Jack Johnson, is a 1971 studio album and soundtrack by American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Miles Davis. In 1970, Davis was asked by Bill Cayton to record music for his documentary of the same name on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson’s saga resonated personally with Davis, who wrote in the album’s liner notes of Johnson’s mastery as a boxer, his affinity for fast cars, jazz, clothes, and beautiful women, his unreconstructed blackness, and his threatening image to white men. This was the second film score he had composed, after Ascenseur pour l’échafaud in 1957.

The music recorded for Jack Johnson reflected Davis’ interest in the eclectic jazz fusion of the time while foreshadowing the hard-edged funk that would fascinate him in the next few years. Having wanted to put together what he called “the greatest rock and roll band you have ever heard”, Davis recorded with a line-up featuring guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, keyboardists Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, clarinetist Bennie Maupin, and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Billy Cobham. The album’s two tracks were drawn from one recording session on April 7 and edited together with recordings from February 1970 by producer Teo Macero.

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Jack Johnson was released by Columbia Records on February 24, 1971. It was a turning point in Davis’ career and has since been viewed as one of his greatest works. JazzTimes later wrote that while his 1970 album Bitches Brew had helped spark the fusion of jazz and rock, Jack Johnson was Davis’ most brazen and effective venture into rock, “the one that blew the fusion floodgates wide open, launching a whole new genre in its wake”. According to McLaughlin, Davis considered it to be his best jazz-rock album. (by wikipedia)

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None of Miles Davis’ recordings has been more shrouded in mystery than Jack Johnson, yet none has better fulfilled Davis’ promise that he could form the “greatest rock band you ever heard.” Containing only two tracks, the album was assembled out of no less than four recording sessions between February 18, 1970 and June 4, 1970, and was patched together by producer Teo Macero. Most of the outtake material ended up on Directions, Big Fun, and elsewhere. The first misconception is the lineup: the credits on the recording are incomplete. For the opener, “Right Off,” the band is Davis, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Michael Henderson, and Steve Grossman (no piano player!), which reflects the liner notes. This was from the musicians’ point of view, in a single take, recorded as McLaughlin began riffing in the studio while waiting for Davis; it was picked up on by Henderson and Cobham, Hancock was ushered in to jump on a Hammond organ (he was passing through the building), and Davis rushed in at 2:19 and proceeded to play one of the longest, funkiest, knottiest, and most complex solos of his career.

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Seldom has he cut loose like that and played in the high register with such a full sound. In the meantime, the interplay between Cobham, McLaughlin, and Henderson is out of the box, McLaughlin playing long, angular chords centering around E. This was funky, dirty rock & roll jazz. The groove gets nastier and nastier as the track carries on and never quits, though there are insertions by Macero of two Davis takes on Sly Stone tunes and an ambient textured section before the band comes back with the groove, fires it up again, and carries it out. On “Yesternow,” the case is far more complex. There are two lineups, the one mentioned above, and one that begins at about 12:55. The second lineup was Davis, McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin, Dave Holland, and Sonny Sharrock. The first 12 minutes of the tune revolve around a single bass riff lifted from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” The material that eases the first half of the tune into the second is taken from “Shhh/Peaceful,” from In a Silent Way, overdubbed with the same trumpet solo that is in the ambient section of “Right Off.”

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It gets more complex as the original lineup is dubbed back in with a section from Davis’ tune “Willie Nelson,” another part of the ambient section of “Right Off,” and an orchestral bit of “The Man Nobody Saw” at 23:52, before the voice of Jack Johnson (by actor Brock Peters) takes the piece out. The highly textured, nearly pastoral ambience at the end of the album is a fitting coda to the chilling, overall high-energy rockist stance of the album. Jack Johnson is the purest electric jazz record ever made because of the feeling of spontaneity and freedom it evokes in the listener, for the stellar and inspiring solos by McLaughlin and Davis that blur all edges between the two musics, and for the tireless perfection of the studio assemblage by Miles and producer Macero. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:

he first track and about half of the second track were recorded on April 7, 1970 by this sextet:

Billy Cobham (drums)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Steve Grossman (saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (organ)
Michael Henderson (bass)

John McLaughlin (guitar)

The “Willie Nelson” section of the second track (starting at about 13:55) was recorded on February 18, 1970 by a different and uncredited lineup:

Chick Corea (piano)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Dave Holland (bass)

Bennie Maupin (clarinet)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Sonny Sharrock (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Right Off (Davis) 26.54
02. Yesternow (Davis) 25.35LabelB1

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Miles Davis – Miles Ahead (1957)

frontcover1Miles Ahead is an album by Miles Davis that was released in 1957 by Columbia Records. It was Davis’ first collaboration with arranger Gil Evans following the Birth of the Cool sessions. Along with their subsequent collaborations Porgy and Bess (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960), Miles Ahead is one of the most famous recordings of Third Stream, a fusion of jazz, European classical, and world musics. Davis played flugelhorn throughout.

Evans combined the ten pieces that make up the album into a suite, each flowing into the next without interruption; the only exception to this rule was on the title track since it was placed last on side A (this has been corrected on the CD versions). Davis is the only soloist on Miles Ahead, which features a large ensemble consisting of sixteen woodwind and brass players. Art Taylor played drums on the sessions and the then current Miles Davis Quintet member Paul Chambers was the bassist.

A fifth recording date involved Davis alone (re-)recording material to cover or patch mistakes or omissions in his solos using overdubbing. The fact that this album originally was produced in mono makes these inserted overdubbings rather obvious in the new stereo setting.

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Original frontcover

Miles reportedly was unhappy about the album’s original cover, which featured a photograph of a young white woman and child aboard a sailboat. He made his displeasure known to Columbia executive George Avakian, asking, “Why’d you put that white bitch on there?”[10] Avakian later stated that the question was made in jest. For later releases of the record, however, the original cover-photo has been substituted by a photograph of Miles Davis.

The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave Miles Ahead a four-star rating out of a possible four stars, and called the album “a quiet masterpiece… with a guaranteed place in the top flight of Miles albums.”[8] Of Davis’ flugelhorn, Kevin Whitehead of Cadence wrote that it “seemed to suit [Davis] better than trumpet: more full-bodied, less shrill, it glosses over his technical deficiencies.”[9] The Penguin Guide, on the other hand, opined that “the flugelhorn’s sound isn’t so very different from his trumpet soloing, though palpably softer-edged…. [S]ome of the burnish seems to be lost.” (by wikipedia)

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Gil Evans + Miles Davis

This album is perhaps most significant for the process it set in motion — the collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis that would produce Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, two of Davis’ best albums. That said, this album is a miracle in itself, the result of a big gamble on the part of Columbia Records, who put together Evans and Davis, who hadn’t worked together since recording the critically admired but commercially unsuccessful sides that would later be issued as The Birth of the Cool. Columbia also allowed Evans to assemble a 19-piece band for the recordings, at a time when big bands were far out of fashion and also at a time when the resulting recordings could not be released until two years in the future (because of Davis’ contractual obligations with Prestige). Davis was also expected to carry the album as its only soloist, and manage not to get lost among a cast of supporting musicians that included a huge horn section. To a large extent, he succeeds. Evans’ arrangements in particular are well-suited to the format, and cd1he and Davis formed a deep and close partnership where ideas were swapped back and forth, nurtured, and developed long before they were expressed in the studio. Davis gets off to a great start, with the hyper-kinetic “Springsville,” which seems to almost perfectly embody Evans’ and Davis’ partnership with its light, flexible exchanges between soloist and orchestra. He is strongest on the ballads, though, where his subdued and wistful tone rises high above the hushed accompaniment, especially on “Miles Ahead” and “Blues for Pablo” (which foreshadows the bluesy, Latin-tinged sound of Sketches of Spain). The upbeat “I Don’t Want to Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)” is another strong song, but shows the weakness of the format as Davis intersperses a charming, bright, technically challenging solo with a blasting horn section that occasionally buries him. It is a fine end, however, to an album that gave a hint of the greatness that would come as Evans and Davis fine-tuned their partnership over the course of the next several years. (by Stacia Proefrock)

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Barney Wilen (ts), Miles Davis (t), René Urtreger (p, hidden), Pierre Michelot (b), Kenny Clarke (d)
during the concert in  the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, December 8, 1957

Personnel:
Danny Bank (clarinet)
Bill Barber (tuba)
Joe Bennett (trombone)
Jim Buffington (french horn)
John Carisi (trumpet)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Sid Cooper (flute, clarinet)
Miles Davis (flugelhorn)
Bernie Glow (trumpet)
Taft Jordan (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Lee Konitz (saxophone)
Tony Miranda (french horn)
Tom Mitchell (trombone)
Louis Mucci (trumpet)
Romeo Penque (flute, clarinet)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Willie Ruff (french horn)
Art Taylor (drums)

Arranged and conducted by Gil Evans

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Tracklist:
01. Springsville (Carisi) 3.27
02. The Maids Of Cadiz (Delibes) 3.53
03. The Duke (Brubeck) – 3:35
04. My Ship (Weill) – 4:28
05. Miles Ahead (Davis/Evans) – 3:29
06. Blues For Pablo (Evans) – 5:18
07. New Rhumba (Jamal) – 4:37
08. Medley Pt. 1: The Meaning Of The Blues (Troup/Worth) 2.48
09. Medley Pt. 2: Lament (Johnson) 2.14
10. I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You) (Elliot/Spina) 3.05
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11. Springsville (Remake take 7) (Carisi) 3.16
12. Blues For Pablo (Take 1) (Evans) 3.32
13. Meaning Of The Blues-Lament (Rehearsal) (Troup/Worth) 5.10
14. I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone But You) (Alternate take) (Elliot/Spina) 3.11

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Miles Davis – `Round About Midnight (1957)

frontcover1‘Round About Midnight is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis. It was his debut on Columbia Records, and was originally released in March 1957 (CL 949). The album took its name from the Thelonious Monk song “‘Round Midnight”. Recording sessions took place at Columbia Studio D on October 26, 1955, and at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio on June 5 and September 10, 1956.

Although it had a lukewarm reception upon its release, ‘Round About Midnight has since been regarded by critics as a masterpiece of the hard bop genre and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

At the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, Davis performed the song “‘Round Midnight” as part of an all-star jam session, with the song’s composer Thelonious Monk, along with Connie Kay and Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. Davis’s solo received an extremely positive reception from many jazz fans, and critics. It was viewed as a significant comeback and indication of a healthy, drug-free Davis (he had in fact been free from heroin addiction for well over a year). Davis’ response to this performance was typically laconic: “What are they talking about? I just played the way I always play.”[5] George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience, and his brother Aram persuaded him that he ought to sign Davis to the label.[6] Davis was eventually signed to Columbia Records, and was able to form his famous “first great quintet” with John Coltrane on saxophone. ‘Round About Midnight was to be his first album for his new label.

Davis was still under contract to Prestige Records, but had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. The recording dates for the album were at Columbia Records’ studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955, at Studio D, during which the track “Ah-Leu-Cha” was recorded along with three other numbers that did not appear on the album. This is the first studio recording of the quintet. The remainder of the album was recorded during sessions on June 5, 1956 (“Dear Old Stockholm”, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Tadd’s Delight”) and September 10, 1956 (“All of You” and the titular “‘Round Midnight”) at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio. During the same period, the Miles Davis Quintet was also recording sessions to fulfill its contract with Prestige. (by wikipedia)

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Given that ‘Round About Midnight was Miles Davis’ debut Columbia recording, it was both a beginning and an ending. Certainly the beginning of his recording career with the label that issued most if not all of his important recordings; and the recording debut of an exciting new band that had within its ranks Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, pianist Red Garland, and an all but unknown tenor player named John Coltrane. The title track was chosen because of its unique rendition with a muted trumpet, and debuted at the Newport Jazz Festival the summer before to a thunderous reception. The date was also an ending of sorts because by the time of the album’s release, Davis had already broken up the band, which re-formed with Cannonball Adderley a year later as a sextet, but it was a tense year.

Musically, this sound is as unusual and as beautiful as it was when issued in 1956. Davis had already led the charge through two changes in jazz — both cool jazz and hard bop — and was beginning to move in another direction here that wouldn’t be defined for another two years. Besides the obvious lyrical and harmonic beauty of “Round About Midnight” that is arguably its definitive version even over Monk’s own, there are the edges of Charlie Parker’s “Au Leu-Cha” with its Bluesology leaping from every chord change in Red Garland’s left hand. Coltrane’s solo here too is notable for its stark contrast to Davis’ own: he chooses an angular tack where he finds the heart of the mode and plays a melody in harmonic counterpoint to the changes but never sounds outside. Cole Porter’s “All of You” has Davis quoting from Louis Armstrong’s “Basin Street Blues” in his solo that takes out the tune, and Coltrane has never respected a melody so much.

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But it’s in “Bye-Bye Blackbird” that we get to hear the band gel as a unit, beginning with Davis playing through the melody, muted and sweet, slightly flatted out until he reaches the harmony on the refrain and begins his solo on a high note. Garland is doing more than comping in the background; he’s slipping chord shapes into those interval cracks and shifting them as the rhythm section keeps “soft time.” When Coltrane moves in for his break, rather than Davis’ spare method, he smatters notes quickly all though the melodic body of the tune and Garland has to compensate harmonically, moving the mode and tempo up a notch until his own solo can bring it back down again. Which he does with a gorgeous all-blues read of the tune utilizing first one hand and then both hands to create fat harmonic chords to bring Davis back in to close it out. It’s breathtaking how seamless it all is. There’s little else to say except that ‘Round About Midnight is among the most essential of Davis’ Columbia recordings. (by Thom Jurek)

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Miles Davis with french actress Jeanne Moreau in 1957

Personnel:
Paul Chambers (bass)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Red Garland (piano)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. ‘Round Midnight (Monk/Hanighen/Williams) 5.58
02. Ah-Leu-Cha (Parker) 5.53
03. All Of You (Porter) 7.03
04. Bye Bye Blackbird (Dixon/Henderson) 7.57
05. Tadd’s Delight (Dameron) 4.29
06. Dear Old Stockholm (Traditional/Getz) 7.52
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07. Two Bass Hit (Lewis/Gillespie) 3.45
08. Little Melonae (McLean) 7.22
09. Budo (Powell/Davis) 4.17
10. Sweet Sue, Just You (Harris/Young) 3.40

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Miles Davis – Agharta (1975)

FrontCover1Along with its sister recording, Pangaea, Agharta was recorded live in February of 1975 at the Osaka Festival Hall in Japan. Amazingly enough, given that these are arguably Davis’ two greatest electric live records, they were recorded the same day. Agharta was performed in the afternoon and Pangaea in the evening. Of the two, Agharta is superior. The band with Davis — saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarists Pete Cosey (lead) and Reggie Lucas (rhythm), bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist James Mtume — was a group who had their roots in the radically streetwise music recorded on 1972’s On the Corner, and they are brought to fruition here. The music on Agharta, a total of three tunes spread over two CDs and four LP sides, contains the “Prelude,” which clocks in at over a half-hour. There is “Maiysha” from Get up With It and the Agharta “Interlude,” which segues into the “Theme From Jack Johnson.” The music here is almost totally devoid of melody and harmony, and is steeped into a steamy amalgam of riffs shot through and through with crossing polyrhythms, creating a deep voodoo funk groove for the soloists to inhabit for long periods of time as they solo and interact with one another.

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Davis’ band leading at this time was never more exacting or free. The sense of dynamics created by the stop-start accents and the moods, textures, and colors brought out by this particular interaction of musicians is unparalleled in Davis’ live work — yeah, that includes the Coltrane and Bill Evans bands, but they’re like apples and oranges anyway. Driven by the combination of Davis’ direction and the soloing of Sonny Fortune and guitarist Pete Cosey, who is as undervalued and underappreciated for his incalculable guitar-slinging gifts as Jimi Hendrix is celebrated for his, and the percussion mania of Mtume, the performance on Agharta is literally almost too much of a good thing to bear. When Cosey starts his solo in the “Prelude” at the 12-minute mark, listeners cannot be prepared for the Hendrixian energy and pure electric whammy-bar weirdness that’s about to come splintering out of the speakers. As the band reacts in intensity, the entire proceeding threatens to short out the stereo. These are some of the most screaming notes ever recorded. Luckily, since this is just the first track on the whole package, Davis can bring the tempos down a bit here and there and snake them into spots that I don’t think even he anticipated before that afternoon (check the middle of “Maiysha” and the second third of “Jack Johnson” for some truly creepy and beautiful wonders). While Pangaea is awesome as well, there is simply nothing like Agharta in the canon of recorded music. This is the greatest electric funk-rock jazz record ever made — period. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion, synthesizer)
Miles Davis (organ, trumpet)
Sonny Fortune (saxophone, flute)
Al Foster (drums)
Michael Henderson (bass)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
James Mtume (percussion, rhythm box, water drums)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Prelude (Part 1) 22.34
02. Prelude (Part 2) / Maiysha 23.01
03.Interlude 26.17
04. Theme from Jack Johnson 25.59

All compositions written by Miles Davis

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Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (1959)

OriginalFrontCover1Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released on August 17, 1959, by Columbia Records. It was recorded earlier that year on March 2 and April 22 at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City. The recording sessions featured Davis’s ensemble sextet, consisting of pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, together with pianist Wynton Kelly on one track.

After the entry of Evans into his sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) by basing Kind of Blue entirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz.

Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Kind of Blue has been regarded by many critics as jazz’s greatest record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time. Its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. Kind of Blue was one of fifty recordings chosen in 2002 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, and in 2003, it was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

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By late 1958, Davis employed one of the best and most profitable working bands pursuing the hard bop style. His personnel had become stable: alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Bill Evans, long-serving bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. His band played a mixture of pop standards and bebop originals by Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Tadd Dameron. As with all bebop-based jazz, Davis’s groups improvised on the chord changes of a given song.[1] Davis was one of many jazz musicians growing dissatisfied with bebop, and saw its increasingly complex chord changes as hindering creativity.

MilesDavis02In 1953, the pianist George Russell published his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, which offered an alternative to the practice of improvisation based on chords and chord changes. Abandoning the traditional major and minor key relationships, the Lydian Chromatic Concept introduced the idea of chord/scale unity and was the first theory to explore the vertical relationship between chords and scales, as well as the only original theory to come from jazz. This approach led the way to “modal” in jazz. Influenced by Russell’s ideas, Davis implemented his first modal composition with the title track of his studio album Milestones (1958). Satisfied with the results, Davis prepared an entire album based on modality. Pianist Bill Evans, who had studied with Russell but recently departed from Davis’s sextet to pursue his own career, was drafted back into the new recording project, the sessions that would become Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue was recorded on three-track tape in two sessions at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio in New York City. On March 2, 1959, the tracks “So What”, “Freddie Freeloader”, and “Blue in Green” were recorded for side one of the original LP, and on April 22 the tracks “All Blues” and “Flamenco Sketches” were recorded, making up side two. Production was handled by Teo Macero, who had produced Davis’s previous two LPs, and Irving Townsend.

As was Davis’s penchant, he called for almost no rehearsal and the musicians had little idea what they were to record. As described in the original liner notes by pianist Bill Evans, Davis had only given the band sketches of scales and melody lines on which to improvise. Once the musicians were assembled, Davis gave brief instructions for each piece and then set to taping the sextet in studio. While the results were impressive with so little preparation, the persistent legend that the entire album was recorded in one pass is untrue. (by wikipedia)

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Kind of Blue isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album. To be reductive, it’s the Citizen Kane of jazz — an accepted work of greatness that’s innovative and entertaining. That may not mean it’s the greatest jazz album ever made, but it certainly is a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps it’s that this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of “So What.” From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It’s the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from chords, not the overall key, giving the music a subtly shifting quality. All of this doesn’t quite explain why seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they’ve memorized every nuance.

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They return because this is an exceptional band – Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly — one of the greatest in history, playing at the peak of its power. As Evans said in the original liner notes for the record, the band did not play through any of these pieces prior to recording. Davis laid out the themes and chords before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised. The end results were wondrous, filled with performances that still crackle with vitality. Few albums of any genre manage to work on so many different levels, but Kind of Blue does. It can be played as background music, yet it amply rewards close listening. It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don’t like Kind of Blue, you don’t like jazz — but it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

In other words: A masterpiece of jazz, a masterpiece of music ! One of the most important albums from the last century !

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Personnel:
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (saxophone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Bill Evans (piano)
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Wynton Kelly — piano (on 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. So What (Davis) 9.04
02. Freddie Freeloader (Davis) 9.34
03. Blue In Green (Davis/Evans) 5.27
04. All Blues (Davis) 11.33
05. Flamenco Sketches (Davis/Evans) 9.26
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06. Flamenco Sketches (alternate take) (Davis/Evans) 9.34
07. Freddie Freeloader (studio sequence 1) (Davis) 0.53
08. Freddie Freeloader (false start) (Davis) 1.27
09. Freddie Freeloader (studio sequence 2) (Davis) 1.30
10. So What (studio sequence 1) (Davis) 1.55
11. So What (studio sequence 2) (Davis) 0.13
12. Blue In Green (studio sequence) (Davis/Evans) 1.58
13. Flamenco Sketches (studio sequence 1) (Davis/Evans) 0.45
14. Flamenco Sketches (studio sequence 2) (Davis/Evans) 1.12
15. All Blues (studio sequence) (Davis) 0.18
16. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper/Washington) 9.50
17. Fran-Dance (Davis) 5.49
18. Stella By Starlight (Young/Washington) 4.46
19. Love For Sale (Porter)  11.49
20. Fran-Dance (alternate take) (Davis) 5.53
21. So What (recorded at Kurhaus, The Hague, April 9, 1960) (Davis) 17.29

 

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Miles Davis – Live At The Royal Festival Hall (1971)

FrontCover1This is what Miles wrote in his autobiography: “Airto Moreira quit early in 1971 and I got Jimmy Heath’s son, Mtume, to replace him on percussion. We didn’t record for a while because you have to let a band get used to playing together before you record anything. We went out on the road to try to get things together.

“Jack DeJohnette left the group late in 1971, around the same time Keith Jarrett left. I wanted the drummer to play certain funk rhythms, a role just like everybody else in the group had. I didn’t want the band playing totally free all the time, because I was moving closer to the funk groove in my head. Now, Jack could play drums like a motherf***er in a groove; he could really do that shit, but he also wanted to do other things, play a little freer, be a leader, do things his own way, so he left…

MilesDavis01“I tried out Leon Ndugu Chancler… But after Gary Bartz, Keith, and Jack left my working band, I got my musicians from funk groups and not jazz bands because that’s the way I was going. Those guys were the last pure jazz players I’ve had in my bands up until today.”

Thanks to jkeisers who shared the lossless tracks on the internet, fans can now listen to this not-widely-circulated recording of Miles Davis at the Royal Festival Hall in London on November 13, 1971.

While the recording is sourced from an audio cassette, jkeisers adds: “I don’t think that this is an audience recording, but I’m not sure. Remastered by me. One or two glitches. Audible tape flip that I didn’t try to fix.”

Recored live at the Royal Festival Hall, London, November 13, 1971.

MilesDavis1971Personnel:
Charles Don Alias (percussion)
Gary Bartz (saxophone)
“Ndugu” Leon Chancler (drums)
Miles Davis (trumoet)
James “Mtume” Foreman (percussion)
Michael Henderson (bass)
Keith Jarrett (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Directions (Zawinul) 11.15
02. What I Say? (Davis) 15.24
03. Sanctuary (Shorter/Davis) 3.51
04. It’s About That Time (Davis) 15.55
05. Honky Tonk (Davis) 14.25
06. Funky Tonk (Davis) 15.45
07. Sanctuary (Shorter/Davis) 1.35

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