BCB 100 - Miles Davis

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geoffcowgill
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BCB 100 - Miles Davis

Postby geoffcowgill » 18 Jan 2007, 15:21

The Picasso of music, always there exploring, if not outright creating, many of the major innovations and experimentations in his medium. Were there more talented artists? Probably. But there weren’t any more dynamic and important in jazz. He’s the only non-‘pop’ musician in the BCB 100, but his dalliances with rock, whether his acknowledged influence by and interest in artists such as Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince, or his pioneering work in bringing rock rhythms to jazz with albums like Bitches’ Brew, makes him fit in on this list quite comfortably. He’s got an enormous catalog of recordings, as intimidating to a newcomer (and loaded with as many landmines) as labelmate Dylan’s, but once sucked in to his remarkable career, it’s easy to become obsessive and a completist collector.

I’ve got a somewhat limited knowledge of the form, but I’d be shocked to find a more perfect jazz album than Kind of Blue. It’s the jazz album people with only one jazz album have for a reason, but only the most disinterested dabblers in music and the dull of soul wouldn’t make it a gateway record. Its reputation as a monumental work of genius, of remarkable musicians capturing the outpouring of a muse on fire, is undeniably deserved. It is the epitome of cool, grace, beauty, and controlled power.

My favorite single recording of his is “It Never Entered My Mind” from Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet. It’s a tight, structured piece that appeals to my interest in songcraft, but the personality, the individuality of the performance is what is most arresting. It is the most moving, lyrical playing I’ve ever heard from him, that muted fragile trumpet as expressive and unique as Billie Holiday.


Favorite Album - Kind of Blue

Favorite Song - "It Never Entered My Mind"

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Postby Leg of lamb » 18 Jan 2007, 15:44

Truly great post there, geoff. I especially endorse the link to Picasso - both seem to be behemoths of their idiom, sadly the be-all-and-end-all in lots of people's eyes, but not even the biggest expert would truly begrudge their position. They just gave so much.

From my point of view, Miles Davis (and, relative to his domain, Picasso) represents about 80% of my knowledge of jazz. I pretty much know that this will decrease as time goes on but, for now, there seems to be more worlds contained in the 5 or 6 records I own than could be properly explored in a lifetime.

My favourite album is In a Silent Way - a little slice of heaven.
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Postby king feeb » 18 Jan 2007, 16:02

These days, I've become much more partial to the electric Miles. I can't say why that is, except that these albums just sound really right for 2007.

Album: Jack Johnson although On The Corner has been making inroads in recent years...
Song:"Shhhh/Peaceful" from In A Silent Way
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Postby Kenji » 18 Jan 2007, 16:08

I couldn't see The Beatles, but I saw The Rolling Stones...I saw so many other legend, but I didn't see Miles...

That makes me sadder than ANY other show I didn't see...

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Postby bixhenry » 18 Jan 2007, 16:25

As great an artist as music has produced. I can't imagine going through life without having at least ten Miles albums close at hand. And although his electric period is currently (and rightly) favored among aficionados, he is possibly the greatest practitioner of the ballad form in jazz history. As great as the ballads of Trane, Duke, Parker and Mingus were, I don't think anyone in music except, perhaps, Sinatra, did loneliness as effectively as Miles.

(BTW, my wife saw Miles around the same time that pig did - the mid-'80s - and had pretty much the same reaction - that of major disappointment.)

Album - In A Silent Way
Song - 'It Never Entered My Mind' and 'Shhh/Peaceful'
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Postby toomanyhatz » 18 Jan 2007, 18:48

Pretty brilliant. No one else, save maybe Ray Charles, had as lengthy a career that had as much diversity and growth in it. Kind of Blue was the one that got me first, then his late 50s/early 60s records (love the band on most of that stuff) before digging into his electric records.

I think since I wasn't listening in "real time" I was not distracted by an attachment to the "old Miles" as I think many were at the time. his early 70s work is now home for me- On the Corner is one of my favorite funk records, and Jack Johnson is incredibly inspired, what fusion should have been and would have, were all the main players just a little less impressed with their own abilities. The Jack Johnson "complete sessions" box is the best of its type, by the way- every performance is different, and even the same-titled ones are worth hearing multiple times. He was a master at getting great performances out of others, as evidenced by John McLaughlin's best-ever playing on JJ.

album - Kind of Blue, On the Corner, Jack Johnson, Sketches of Spain (toss-up)
song - So What or Will O' the Wisp
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Postby Hag-man » 19 Jan 2007, 01:16

bixhenry wrote:As great an artist as music has produced. I can't imagine going through life without having at least ten Miles albums close at hand. And although his electric period is currently (and rightly) favored among aficionados, he is possibly the greatest practitioner of the ballad form in jazz history. As great as the ballads of Trane, Duke, Parker and Mingus were, I don't think anyone in music except, perhaps, Sinatra, did loneliness as effectively as Miles.

(BTW, my wife saw Miles around the same time that pig did - the mid-'80s - and had pretty much the same reaction - that of major disappointment.)

Album - In A Silent Way
Song - 'It Never Entered My Mind' and 'Shhh/Peaceful'


Great post, Bix. It's his "walking-on-egg-shells" feel that no-one has come close to duplicating. Even through some of the excesses of the elecetric period, the style was still there.

I admit I could live without the Warner's studio albums - (well, maybe a single best-of would be necessary) - it's no surprise to find that he didn't write any of that material.

(I saw the band in '88 in Melbourne, and it was the worst concert I've almost ever seen - Miles doodling on flugelhorn and keyboard, doing nothing. At one point, he spat his gum on the stage, then proceeded to get his harem-sneaker stuck in it - spent 5 minutes disentangling. The highlight of the show. Major-league disappointment when your idols have feet of clay [or in this case, gum.] Kenny Garret, on the other hand, was great.)
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Postby Six String » 19 Jan 2007, 03:37

Great posts from Geoff and Bix. There is so much I like by Miles that I can't think of one album or one song that I could name without feeliing like I had made the wrong choice. By the time I could make up my mind, this thread will be so far down the chain, I wouldn't be able to find it.

I still prefer his more acoustic side over the electric, but that's just me. I wouldn't want to live without any of it, but I play the music of the first two quintets more than any of his electric albums. The nice thing is that he seems to have something for any mood you choose to be in. I could listen to his music for days without getting bored.

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Postby Balboa » 19 Jan 2007, 15:34

Great posts here. I love Miles and agree with pretty much everything that has been written about him here.

Album - The Complete Concert 1964 (the one with George Coleman on tenor sax - other than that it is his classic second quintet).

Song - My Funny Valentine - the live version from the above album. Just stunning. Miles pulls it all over the place and dictates the whole piece - tempo changes the lot - with little "call out" phrases to the band. I love it. What an opening to that show. The recent thread about "Gigs you would have loved to have seen" brought this to mind for me.
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Postby Toby » 19 Jan 2007, 19:14

Only Stravinsky I think has come up with a similar range of textures in music in the 20th century. I'm no Miles aficinado - I have a number of his records, and I only listen to them rarely because they demand complete attention from you. I prefer Electric-era - in particular Bitches Brew, purely because I sort of knew what it would sound like before I heard it, and then I heard it - and well, it just went off the scale.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 19 Jan 2007, 19:24

As good as anyone in any field of music has ever been.
At least a dozen certified classic albums. How many artists can we say that about? Dylan, Young (if you include Buffalo Springfield), Lennon, McCartney (and both only if you include the Beatles), Sinatra, maybe a precious few others.

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Postby purgatory brite » 19 Jan 2007, 19:32

album Kind Of Blue

song So What

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Postby mentalist (slight return) » 19 Jan 2007, 23:19

Album Miles Smiles
Song Flamenco Sketches
king of the divan

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Postby NMB » 19 Jan 2007, 23:44

Album: Miles Smiles for me too. Why so overlooked?

Song: It Never Entered My Mind (off Vol. 1)

But it's not really about albums and songs.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 20 Jan 2007, 00:10

I'm delighted to see "It Never Entered My Mind" pop up a number of times here. I had no idea it was so commonly adored (though it obviously should be). I haven't 'studied' Miles, so my conception of what his most beloved recordings are is probably heavily influenced by what appears on Columbia comps, and since this was on Prestige it probably gets ignored in a lot of ways.

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Postby The Write Profile » 20 Jan 2007, 03:44

I think what gets me about In A Silent Way is something that pigbodine nailed in the "when Miles Davis rocked" thread- that if anything, its spacey, trippy mood sounds like a close cousin to ambient electronica. There's that moment in the midsection of "It's About that Time" where the flurry of activity just winds down to this beautifully langrous crawl that might just be my favourite moment in any kind of music, the composure and pacing of that track is astonishing.

What's the jazz nut's take on Sketches of Spain? I know it tends to get be highly acclaimed by a lot of rock scribes that liked Miles Davis (I think it was Lester Bangs's favourite Miles album at one stage), but it doesn't really fit into the greater continuum of his work does it? Still, the opening "Adagio" piece is wonderous in its high drama, its change of tack and lightness of touch, particularly the arrangements that augment Miles's playing on it. It seems to take a lot of the touches I like from the "Flamenco Sketches" piece and expand upon them in all sorts of different directions.

As for other Miles, I recently picked up Miles Smiles, but it hasn't quite clicked yet for me, if anything I find it too busy for my liking, even compared to something like ESP, which I suppose is meant to be in a similar vein. I'm not sure what it is about Miles Smiles, but it hasn't hooked me in yet. Perhaps someone who has some knowledge about that record could give me an insight into it or write what perhaps makes it special?

There's some other Miles records I own, but I feel a bit strange typing on this thread cos I'm still relatively new to his work. That said, there's already been some nice posts on this thread, good to see.
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Postby Kenji » 20 Jan 2007, 03:50

The RightGraduate Profile wrote:As for other Miles, I recently picked up Miles Smiles, but it hasn't quite clicked yet for me, if anything I find it too busy for my liking, even compared to something like ESP, which I suppose is meant to be in a similar vein. I'm not sure what it is about Miles Smiles, but it hasn't hooked me in yet. Perhaps someone who has some knowledge about that record could give me an insight into it or write what perhaps makes it special?


I love the rhythm section and there is great piano playing. I agree it takes a longer time to "click"...

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Postby The Write Profile » 20 Jan 2007, 03:53

Kenji wrote:
The RightGraduate Profile wrote:As for other Miles, I recently picked up Miles Smiles, but it hasn't quite clicked yet for me, if anything I find it too busy for my liking, even compared to something like ESP, which I suppose is meant to be in a similar vein. I'm not sure what it is about Miles Smiles, but it hasn't hooked me in yet. Perhaps someone who has some knowledge about that record could give me an insight into it or write what perhaps makes it special?


I love the rhythm section and there is great piano playing. I agree it takes a longer time to "click"...


Cheers, Kenji, appreciated :-)

I agree that I have to spend more time with that record, because I can hear the good parts of it, but there's something about the paciness of it that hasn't quite "clicked" with me yet. Which is surprising because Bitche's Brew is even more frenetic and yet I suppose because that's more of a "rock" record, it was easier for me to digest. It's an interesting record, anyway.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 23 Jan 2007, 02:01

None More Black wrote:
Song: It Never Entered My Mind (off Vol. 1)



This just recently popped up on my iPod and I probably hadn't heard it in ages. It struck me as not nearly as good as the take from Workin'. So I did the Pepsi Challenge on the mothers, and I stand by my statement. Have you heard the Workin' version? It just sounds more dynamic and uncertain, with each player's contribution sparkling with personality. I love Horace Silver, but Red Garland is amazing on the latter version. That speed up at the conclusion is fantastic. Only about two years separate the two, but the '56 recording is just something particularly special.

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Re: BCB 100 - Miles Davis

Postby Moleskin » 26 Nov 2007, 18:55

Song: 'Great Expectations'

Having broken myself into electric Miles via disc 2 of Bitches Brew, this one has been grooving me a lot lately.

Album: More difficult. I like most of Big Fun, actually, but it's probably between Kind of Blue and Sketches Of Spain, if I'm honest.
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