Selection 2: Masqualero
Miles Davis (t) Wayne Shorter (ts) Herbie Hancock (p) Ron Carter (b) Tony Williams (d) recorded Columbia Studio B, NYC, May 16, 17 and 24, 1967
Sorcerer is one of several transitional works between Davis’s mainly acoustic recordings with the Second Quintet and his later electric period kicking off with Bitches Brew. Wonderful Hancock/ Carter/ Williams/ Shorter line up finds a reinvigorated Miles Davis, suffused in the heady abstraction of the 1960s, in a spacious flow of music surrounded by musicians who understood the new directions since Miles Smiles, escaping the confines of “too much structure”. Minimal structure and common mood invite the listener to slowly absorb the music, rather than seize and devour it.
Frances Taylor, Betty Mabry and Cicely Tyson made it to the cover of Miles records. Tyson was apparently just “girlfriend” at the time of Sorcerer, as he was in the process of marrying Betty Mabry: one hell of a difficult call to explain.
Miles honey, who that woman?
Which woman, sweetcakes?
The one on the cover of your new record, Miles.
Oh, her? She’s just a friend…
The liner notes of this cover of Sorcerer makes no mention of the artists, and the actual notes are indulgent nonsense penned by West Coast Music Writer Ralph J Gleason.. It’s claimed Miles wanted no explanations because “the music speaks for itself”.
Vinyl: PC 9532 stereo US pressing, vinyl 114gm (skinny!)
A strange US import, not the first I’ve seen, all references to Columbia covered up to avoid breaching EMI’s ownership of the Columbia (Magic Notes) name in the UK.
Columbia couldn’t import and sell a “Columbia ” record in the UK as they had licensed the Columbia name to EMI. The long term work around for this was the creation of the CBS identity for Europe, from around 1963. The stick-on label obliterates all the important detail of the Columbia recording credits. The label underneath is clearly red, so it could be either a two eye (in use up to 1970) or a later Columbia-Columbia no eye, in which case a second US pressing. The low vinyl weight suggests a more recent edition. As an import, it sidesteps the UKs poor Orange CBS/ Oriole pressings, and is great music which sounds as it should – great.
CBS fail to obliterate the US Columbia matrix which indicates this is a US metalwork pressing and not remastered from tapes sent from the former colonies.
Note the obliteration of all mention of “Columbia” from the footer of the liner notes.
Source: local record store.
It’s always fun to find a little vinyl gem hiding like this amidst a sea of nondescript re-issues. I was tempted to try and lift the stuck-on centre labels, but for once someone has done a very effective job in sticking them down. (UPDATE May 2016: I finally got around to lifting off the sticker label. Underneath, it’s a modest Columbia all-round red label)
I have resolved to try to find US originals of Miles late Sixties pre-electric output, as CBS UK pressings are of variable quality. As for Miles electric period from 1970, I know it has its following, but a quick spin of Bitches Brew – signalled by the arrival of John McLaughlin – confirmed I am not among them. Somewhere in the loft are fourteen John McLaughlin albums, which will stay there for the indefinite future.
I come across many people who are animated about the music of their youth. It reconnects them with something that is long gone. In contrast, I find the music of my youth mostly like old clothes that no longer fit. I had a moustache like those 118 adverts, embarassing, really. I enjoyed the Seventies, but that was then and this is now. Great thing about the future, unlike the past, which is already written, it still has a lot of potential.
Wayne Shorter at 80, London Jazz Festival, November 2013.
Big thank you to all readers – LJC just crossed a half million page views, something it takes Justin Bieber a whole fortnight to accomplish. It’s rather satisfying, though for the life of me I can’t think why. As a friend suggested, it’s increasing the total sum of human happiness. Can’t argue with that.