For jazz lovers: under appreciated Miles Davis album

Mike Broadman

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As I type this, I'm listening to Miles Davis' Miles Smiles. This is such an overlooked album that I felt the need to write about it.
Personnel: Tony Williams- drums; Ron Carter- bass; Herbie Hancock- piano; Wayne Shorter- sax; Miles- trumpet
This era of Miles' career is my favorite. He was taking the idiom of bop to a new level. Employing the best young talent around, all of whom went on to achieve jazz super-stardom, this group played so well together, it seemed telepathic.
One of the most amazing things is the drummer, who often doesn't play the beat straight. He plays around it somehow, so that the rhythm is implied, allowing the listener to fill in the gaps and the drummer to become a melodic and even harmonic voice. I really can't think of anyone else who does this. Maybe Max Roach.
Wayne Shorter wrote a lot of the material for the group, so besides being a great player, his talent for composition is emerging. He would go on to become one of the most original jazz voices.
It's nice to hear the musicians doing what they do best: play fresh, interesting, acoustic jazz before they went on to do some creatively spotty things.
The most recognized album of this group is their first, ESP, which is great, but Miles Smiles takes them to a new level. After this album, they would take their music into what would eventually be known as fusion, culminating in In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew before Miles went off the deep end with the whole fusion thing.
Why did I even post this? I dunno, I guess to tell you all to listen to this. So, go listen to it.
 

James RD

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I'll look for that one. I have "The Best of Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-'68". This is taken from the 6CD boxed set. What a band! I think he was at his very best during these years.
 

Robert A. Willis Jr.

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Yeah. This is from a period not really appreciated by the public. This was an outstanding band. I think that Mosaic or Sony has a compilation from this period "Columbia Years", but I'm not sure. The LP's sound great if you can find any.
To me its amazing how many "lives" Miles had and that so many people were able to follow him through these incarnations and years.
If you can get your hands on Smiles, ESP, In the Sky, or Socerer to name a few of the lesser known (to the public) albums you should not hesitate. Serious but still accessible music.
rw
 

Mike Broadman

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Just to add to Robert's list of albums: Nefertiti is also from that lineup. These five albums constitute the studio albums of this group.
Sky sees them really focusing on groove and extended "jams" in a rock and roll style. Filles de Killemanjaro features this lineup of half of the tracks, and Dave Holland and Chick Corea on the rest, marking the transition to the Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
There is a 6 CD box set of all this stuff. I personally don't like box sets, so I just have the individual CDs. However, the Columbia Miles Davis box sets are quite something. There's one with all of his collaborations with Gil Evans (Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess, SKetches of Spain), one with his stuff with John Coltrane (Milestones, Kind of Blue), one with the second quintet that we're talking about now, and one with the complete Bitches Brew sessions, featuring the double album and 2 CDs worth of extras.
These sets are a lot to swallow, since the tracks are in chronological order, not album release order, with lots of alternate tracks. I personally enjoy the albums more.
There's also a box set of the group's performances at the Plugged Nickel (or something like that) when they first started out, playing older material and standards, as well as a compilation of this set.
Despite Miles' originality and vision, he also insisted on chasing massive popularity. The Second Quintet rarely played the stuff on these great albums live, sticking to standards and ballads. This is the most frustrating thing about Miles, as I would love to have heard this material live.
My advice: don't get any of the compilations. You're leaving up to the record company to decide for you which tunes are the "best" and you're missing out on a lot of great stuff. The only compilation I might get is the one of the Plugged Nickel performances.
Essential Miles albums:
Kind of Blue
Sketches of Spain
ESP
Miles Smiles
Milestones
Bitches Brew
Birth of the Cool
I personally have a couple dozen Miles CDs, but the ones I listed are a good way to get introduced to the various incarnation of the Cool One.
 

Chris Madalena

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A bit off topic, but for all of you Miles fans (or his 64 band anyway)check out Herbie Hancock's VSOP cd as well as Quartet. IT's the 64 Miles line-up minus Miles. VSOP has Wynton, and quartet has Freddie Hubbard (better of the two.)
There's also a Miles tribute cd that came out in 96 with that same line-up, but with Wallace Roney on trumpet. He played w/Tony williams for many years and is better at doing Miles than Miles himself.
Anyway, these recordings give a look into the maturity that Wayne, Herbie, Tony, and Ron have developed since the mid 60's. Plus the interplay is amazing. Highly recommend them.
Mike, still waiting for your address so I can burn you a few cd's.
Chris
 

Mike Broadman

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Chris,
I always meant to check out VSOP, but I didn't know about Quartet. I love Freddie Hubbard, so I'll keep an eye out for that one.
I'm gonna e-mail you my address now, thanks.
 

Richard Travale

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I agree, Miles Smiles is definitely in my top 5 Miles Davis albums.
------------------
Rich
"A) You can never go too far and B) If I'm going to get busted it is NOT going to be by a guy like DAT."
My Website
 

Matt Broeska

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Jun 18, 2000
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to bring this topic back... i just picked up miles davis in europe and a first edition copy of someday my prince will come, both on vinyl. if only now i wasn't stuck at work with these two albums staring at me. sometimes used vinyl can be in horrible condition, but these are pristine! i can't wait to listen to 'em.
 

Matt Broeska

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i'm at work right now and can't find on the net when it was recorded. it's a french show, i can tell you that much. i'll write it down when i go home tonight and bring the info in the morning.
 

Matt Broeska

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Jun 18, 2000
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as promised, here's the info... the live in europe album was recorded in 1963 at the international antibes jazz festival in france. now i'm wishing i had written down who he played with. ahhhh... my brain wasn't functioning yesterday when i wrote this down.
 

John Sturge

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Aug 18, 2001
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Hey guys, where can I get Live-Evil on vinyl?..

It seems these days my Miles Davis records are gathering dust these days...I really need to sit down,relax and enjoy a little bit of heaven again
 

Mike Broadman

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A bit off topic, but for all of you Miles fans (or his 64 band anyway)check out Herbie Hancock's VSOP cd as well as Quartet. IT's the 64 Miles line-up minus Miles. VSOP has Wynton, and quartet has Freddie Hubbard (better of the two.)
I picked this up recently and sold it back. I couldn't get into it. That 80s electric sound *shudder*, and it seemed unfocused. It's a world of difference without a strong leader like Miles to give them direction.

Come to think of it, I don't think I have any jazz from the 80s. That decade, man... yech.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Mike,

Strongly agree with this album.

Do you know what the second best thing about the album is after the performance?

The fact that it is also available on Super Audio!

Lee

P.S. That qualifies as my SACD plag of the day!
 

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