Sunday, May 01, 2005

Miles Davis.

Miles
Miles Davis >Milestones
Miles Davis >Stuff (watch it, a large file)

Not any easy claim I think, but these are two perfect tracks.

In the first blush love of jazz, I used to say that left on the proverbial desert island, just give me my Ray Charles records, and my Miles records. Today, I'd be happy only with Ray's (he's got jazz records and blues records and pop records), but, much as I've found myself to be bored with a lot of Miles stuff (of all his eras, not just the later years, as a lot of his critics would have it), there are enough really perfect tracks (I do not use the word 'perfect' lightly either) to burn at least 3 or 4 perfect CDs (and probably enough just great tracks for another 5).

My two favorite perfects bookend Miles' greatness, they're sort of at the center of the wonder of his greatest periods.

Milestones is straight jazz at it's straightest. Rockin', swingin', singable, and memorable. Fun. Simple and/or complex, depending on how you look at it. This one came out of the 'hard bop' moment and swung us right into the modal one.

Stuff: Sharp observers in 1968 took Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter playing electric instruments as clear evidence that Miles had gone 'rock' (and lots of formerly sharp folk proved themselves to be hopeless square); they understood that Miles was on the first step of the journey that led to the amazing-ness of In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Jack Johnson. Me, on the other hand, I was completely clueless. Stuff sounded completely jazzy and soft, even a little cocktail-ish. My hippest friend Michael told me Miles Davis was the thing, Miles in the Sky cost me one penny from the Columbia Record Club (the only way I thought I could afford LPs), so I gave it a play a day for at least six months before I could hear it. And now that I know that the music is perfect, it makes me wonder just how thick my pop music obsession had made my shell.

(By the way, the covers I picked were of the great original albums that introduced these tracks, Milestones and Miles in the Sky. For the big fan, I'd probably also suggest the box sets that include everything from the periods: The Complete Columbia Recordings: Miles Davis & John Coltrane and Miles Davis Quintet: The Complete Columbia Studio Sessions, 1965-68.)

Miles Davis >Milestones
Miles Davis >Stuff
(watch it, a large file)

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