Quantcast
Advertisement
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)

UMG REVS RISING,
SUITORS CIRCLING
Vivendi's looking for more than 10 cents for a slice of the pie. (10/18a)
HITS LIST:
PERFECT PAIRINGS
Bluetooth-enabled (10/18a)
REVENUE CHART:
HIGHER & “HIGHEST”
Speaking of Travis... (10/18a)
KANYE DROPS JESUS IS KING IMAX TRAILER
But shouldn't "is" have an initial cap? (10/18a)
FLIPOVER FRIDAY: NEW ARRIVALS AT iTUNES AND APPLE MUSIC
Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind... What decade are we in? (10/18a)
RIHANNA PREPARES TO RULE THE ROOST
What shoes go with dancehall?
WHAT'S NEXT FOR R&B?
How certain projects connect at streaming.
THE K-POP LANDSCAPE
농담은 한국어에서 더 잘 작동합니다.
THE NEW GRAMMY POWER
Change is nigh.
Critics' Choice
MILES RUNS THE DECADES DOWN
5/29/15

by Simon Glickman

I’m no jazz expert, and that’s part of the reason I’m pretty geeked to get my hands on Columbia Legacy’s four-disc Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4. The set is a mini-history of jazz currents over two decades of particularly tumultuous change. The set also showcases several of Miles’ most accomplished bands.

Disc 1 features both the magisterial Bop outfit starring Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk in 1955, among other stellar players, and the heavenly Coltrane-Adderly-Bill Evans ensemble from ’58. “These gentlemen are in a realm that Buck Rogers is trying to reach,” says Duke Ellington in his brief intro, wherein he deems Monk “the high priest of Bop.” The ’55 band tears it up on Monk’s “Hackensack” and “Now’s the Time.” Trane is stratospheric on “Bye Bye Blackbird.” The questing, otherworldly impulses of the post-bop movement are already in full flower.

On Disc 2 we join the amazing mid-’60s quintet featuring Wayne Shorter on sax, Herbie Hancock on keys, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums. Miles and Shorter explore thrilling unison runs on “Gingerbread Boy” and Miles’ chiaroscuro melodicism and ecstatically drawn-out phrasing on “Stella by Starlight” are rapturous. Shorter channels Bird and Trane on the madly swinging “Seven Steps to Heaven,” while “’Round Midnight” is as deadly seductive as it gets. The fivesome kicks it up a notch for a ferocious yet contained “So What,” with Williams flying around the kit. Perched between the structured adventurousness of the post-bop project and the brave new world of free jazz, this phase is, for me, among the most rewarding.

By Disc 3 we’re on the other side of the solar system, first with the 1969 set featuring Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette (limning the inside-out R&B of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down,” among other longform excursions) and then ’73 and ’75 perfs starring guitarists Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas, among other jazzstronauts (such as Dave Liebman, squalling on soprano sax during the rock-funk vamp “Turnaroundphase”). At this point Miles’ axe sounds less like a trumpet than a shape-shifting noise machine, and whatever deconstructivist din the band is churning up is in a category of its own.

Disc 4 consists entirely of a 1971 set at the European Newport Fest (in Neue Stadthalle, Dietikon, Switzerland, to be precise). Joined by intrepid keyboardist Keith Jarett and much percussion, Miles digs deep into the Bitches Brew cauldron. We’re talking equal parts funk and squonk, and the band's ability to turn on a dime is jaw-dropping. The collective finds a deep-space groove on “Bitches Brew,” with Miles’ wah-wah trumpet pretty much making you forget about the absence of guitar. A kinetic “What I Say” is a highlight, and a nearly 26-minute “Funky Tonk” is, as the first-wave hipsters used to say, real gone.

Like I say, it’s a history lesson. But more than that, it’s a trip. Take it.