Selection: Footprints (Shorter)
Miles Davis (trumpet) Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone) Herbie Hancock (piano) Ron Carter (bass) Tony Williams (drums) recorded Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC, October 24 and 25, 1966
Cultural Notes: October 1966 – an occasional reminder of the world outside jazz
Russia launches Luna 12 to orbit the Moon and the US poorly named Lunar Orbiter 1 doesn’t , and instead crashes on the moon. Difficult to understand the attraction of the moon: the place has absolutely no atmosphere.
October 1966 was otherwise unexceptional – two Soviet, one French and one Chinese nuclear test (Russia wins on test average), a DC-9 airplane crashes with no survivors, a US nuclear reactor melts down, California became the first state to declare LSD illegal (despite claims that, on LSD, the state of California looks little different to without it).
On the cultural front, October ’66 sees the formation of the Jimmy Hendrix Experience, alledgedly the release of the Rolling Stones first live album, and more significantly, Miles Davis kicks off with his second great quintet.
Miles late Sixties studio recordings, coming after ESP (1965), commencing with Miles Smiles (1966), then Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), Miles in the Sky (1968), and Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968). Beyond there, electric mayhem takes hold, audiophile interest wanes, and Miles designer wardrobe makes an entrance, with hint of gold lame trousers still to come, along with a pimp-role in Miami Vice. You think of all those boppers who never made it beyond the Sixties – with mixed feelings
Probably as much has been written about Miles Smiles as ground-breaking Kind of Blue. I will give the floor to other opinion before turning to our resident musicologist van Meerkat..
According to musicologist Jeremy Yudkin: “Miles Smiles falls under the post-bop subgenre, which he defines as “an approach that is abstract and intense in the extreme, with space created for rhythmic and coloristic independence of the drummer—an approach that incorporated modal and chordal harmonies, flexible form, structured choruses, melodic variation, and free improvisation.”
Resident LJC musicologist Dimitri-Shostakovich van Meerkat says: “I agree with that”
Music critic Stephen Erlewine (cited in Wiki) adds: “It’s not just the fast, manic material that has an edge — slower, quieter numbers are mercurial, not just in how they shift melodies and chords, but how the voicing and phrasing never settles into a comfortable groove. This is music that demands attention, never taking predictable paths or easy choices. Its greatest triumph is that it masks this adventurousness within music that is warm and accessible — it just never acts that way. No matter how accessible this is, what’s so utterly brilliant about it is that the group never brings it forth to the audience. They’re playing for each other, pushing and prodding each other in an effort to discover new territory. As such, this crackles with vitality, sounding fresh decades after its release”.
So there you have it: a record heaped with praise which every jazz fan worthy of the name should own, endorsed by our resident musicologist. I recommend you track down the stereo for the most satisfactory musical experience.
Don’t take my word for it. We ask resident sound engineering consultant MC VGee – a.k.a Compare-The-Pressing to give us his take on the mono and stereo editions.”Whadya think VGee? (Hey, anyone ever tell you look remarkably like the famous musicologist van Meerkat?”)
Give us a break LJC, a kat’s gotta eat. Comparing car insurance doesn’t pay the bills and times are hard in Musicology – thanks to the Internet, seems everyone thinks they are an expert. DJ’s make good money.
Listen to Footprints in mono, courtesy of the UK CBS/Oriole edition, and flip back to the US stereo. It’s an education.
To me, it drags, it’s not got the vitality of the US stereo, and what ever happened to Tony Williams cymbals – did he show up for the date without?
Vinyl: CS 9401 US Columbia two-eye, stereo “360 Sound” white text + arrows,(First Pressing Fundamentalists should look away now) 1F stampers.
Having fallen in love with Columbia’s stereo recordings out of its 30th Street Studios, I bided my time waiting for a US stereo copy to surface in the UK – as I object to paying more in postal costs from the US than for the record. A UK CBS/Oriole press mono copy served as an unsatisfactory interim, which I couldn’t warm to, as the sheer spaciousness of the recording absolutely cries out for stereo, with Columbia’s soundstage extending magically several feet beyond the confines of each speaker.
My wait was rewarded:
Ebay Sellers Description:
“Rare, US, 1960’s vinyl album with great picture sleeve and plain white inner sleeve on the Columbia Record Label, CS 9401 (Stereo).
VINYL CONDITION – The vinyl is in near mint condition with minimal signs of it being played.
LABEL – Both labels are clean and free from any stickers, writing or tears.
SLEEVE CONDITION – The picture sleeve is in truly excellent condition with only very slight “foxing” on the rear sleeve – see photo.
This great Quintet featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Miles himself.”
Minimal sign of it being played.Yes, there is a god. Strangely there was only one other bidder – a German sniper with a history of bidding on “Musik > Klassik & Oper”. The sniper’s low bid missed by a wide mark. Nice when once in a while things go right.