Selection:1: Paraphernalia (Shorter)
Selection 2: Country Son (Davis)
Miles Davis (trumpet) Wayne Shorter (tenor sax) Herbie Hancock (piano) George Benson (guitar) Ron Carter (bass) Tony Williams (drums) recorded Columbia Studios, Studio B, NYC, January 16, May 15-17, 1968
A few months later – in June ’68 – Chick Corea arrived on electric piano on Filles De Kilimanjaro, then In a Silent Way, enter Joe Zawinul, John McGlaughlin electric guitar, Herbie full-on electric piano, Dave Holland or Harvey Brooks electric bass, then Keith Jarrett electric piano. Acoustic Miles is gone…
…and regrettably me with it. Controversial I know, because some enthusiasts of the baseball cap sideways persuasion get very excited about Miles street corner/in-the-carwash schtick and Hancock’s electric piano-and-shell-suit phase. It’s their big thing, the funk and fusion stuff. However there’s at least one track on this album for them. Something for everyone, if it’s not in your Miles collection, it should be, it’s in mine.
One of six albums by Davis’s quintet between 1965 and 1968 which established the sub-genre post-bop.
I had neglected this album because I assumed it was in the electric phase, but my mistake, Miles is teetering on the edge of acoustic to electric transition, one of the last primarily acoustic sessions of the second great quintet, aside from the addition on one track of George Benson (Paraphernalia), quite unlike the smooth jazz picker he became and one Herbie on electric piano track (Stuff) .
The rest a full modal, brooding, wonderfully simultaneously loose and together album, rapidly becoming a favourite. Miles drops in and out, Hancock plays catch-as-catch-can with the other players, Shorter is, well, Shorter, Williams is a percussive force in his own right, and Carter is roaming and restless glue holding everything together. Even the Benson track which I had initial fear of, is exciting, with percussive and comping guitar adding rhythmic tension. A fine album.
Vinyl: CS 9628 US edition, Italian release, S63352, sunset orange/yellow CBS label.
On the Parliamo Jazz, e pericoloso sporgersi label, CBS Italiana, grazie mille, ciao! That’s about the extent of my Italian. Oh, and figlio di puttana! I recall Miles Davis used it all the time in its Anglo-Saxon form, but I was warned by Italian friends to use it only very sparingly when in Italy, and definitely not to catch the attention of a waiter in a restaurant – unless you want your drinks poured over your head.
Released in 1968, simultaneously in US, Canada, Japan and European editions in France Germany Italy and the UK, and probably others. Usually I prefer for original US Columbia because of the mess UK CBS sometimes made in remastering, but the Italian edition appears to be pressed from a US Columbia cutting.
The label indicates “Made in Italy by CBS Sugar.” Sugar? One lump or two? It is also typically anarchic – Hey, Luigi – is it Stereo or Mono? “Si, si, is stereomono”. Lost in Translation.
If anyone has the US or any of the European 1968 editions, I’d like to know if there is a 1A first mix, or if the 2A second mix is found on other copies.
The cover design seems Art-school Year One, preoccupied with then-trendy abstract design but without any special empathy for the music within, I’m not sure what it is trying to say. Anyone make anything of the cookie-cutter outer shape?
Classic Miles liner notes i.e none, my music speaks for itself. In this case Miles pants definitely speak for themselves. He looks anxious, pensive. His ten year marriage to Frances Taylor came to an end that year, 1968, which must have weighed on his mind. Miles wears a facial expression I recognise: like he has just received a letter from Fran’s lawyers, setting out their proposal for divorce settlement and alimony. “Jeez, how much?!”
However Betty Mabry was next up shortly, to brighten his spirit.
The London store selling this record helpfully noted on the price ticket, “Italy”. It doesn’t take linguistic genius more than a few seconds (sipping my Aperol Spritz), to notice Miles plays tromba, and Hancock pianoforte electrico, while Benson plays chitarra. There’s a clue in there somewhere.
From previous experience, vintage Italian often means “molto bene!” A friend has an Italian imprint Impulse title which has RVG etching – again, indicting source US master metal. Prestige ’50’s issued in Italy on Music-Depositato pressed with US metal master. Don’t assume “Italian” pressing means second division pressing locally-remastered . Ironically Columbia sent copy tape to UK CBS, but in other cases original metal further afield.
Interesting too that Miles remains a cultural icon today, though it seems with more emphasis on the electric period from the ’70s onwards:
May be I’m cranky and out of my time but 1956-69 hits my spot, probably more the later end than the former, as much due to the creative energy of other members of the second great quintet. Modern narrative insists on a single person as the point of focus, the “celebrity”. More difficult to make a collective enterprise, the music, the star, which is where I come from.
Movie critic appeal: Miles autobigraphy taught me to draw a line between Miles the music and Miles the man.I don’t feel compelled to see the movie Miles Ahead. Am I wrong? Anyone who has seen it , what am I missing?