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Miles Ahead (Original Columbia Jazz Classics) CD
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2.The maids of Cadiz
6.Blues for Pablo
8.The meaning of the blues
10.I don't wanna be kissed (by anyone but you)
11.Springsville (Remake Take 7)
12.Blues for Pablo (Take !)
13.Medley: The meaning of the blues / Lament
14.I don't wanna be kissed (by anyone but you)
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Occorre però considerare che Miles rende il meglio di sé nelle piccole formazioni (da 4 a 7 componenti), dove può rubare la scena agli altri musicisti, pur essendo sempre in perfetto bilanciamento sonoro e musicale con tutti.
Comunque penso che sia uno dei più bei dischi del primo Miles, quando ancora interpretava le melodie con il suo tipico lirismo.
Molto belli anche i brani veloci, dove - sempre senza essere debordante - dimostra di saper anche interagire con la band.
Per i fan di Miles, un disco notevole.
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The coup of this cd is that it has been properly re-mastered and restored to what it was in 1957. Several bad releases made this lp unlistenable for a long time (I have a mono lp copy that I got 15 years ago and it sounds terrible), but Columbia has finally solved that problem.
This lp can also be had as part of the superb Miles Davis/Gil Evans box set that covers this, "Porgy and Bess," "Sketches of Spain," and "Quiet Nights," as well as a few tracks they did in the late 60's. Highly recommended... and if you can't get that set, then of course, this lp is very much recommended.
In "Miles Ahead," Evans' orchestra serves as a bed of gentle flowers for Davis to walk upon while playing his delicate and meaningful musical statements. The orchestra includes five trumpets, three trombones (and a bass trombone), three French horn players, a tuba player, three doublers between flute and clarinet, a bass clarinetist, Lee Konitz on alto, and Paul Chambers and Art Taylor on bass and drums, respectively, but rather than crush the sensitive Miles under its size and power, it surrounds and supports him with a soundscape of astonishing beauty and prods him to produce morsel after morsel of song from his flugelhorn.
Not only were these some of the top improvisers in jazz (Konitz) and studio musicians (the ubiquitous Jimmy Cleveland), but Gil Evans could be possibly the fairest and most brilliant of orchestrators to ever enter the realm of jazz. Amazing in 1956 and equally impressive over fifty years later, "Miles Ahead's" numbers are not head-solo-head treatments or even "orchestral introduction then trumpet glory" sequences, either; any possible combination of the above instruments you can imagine is used in the recording. Miles glides over the brass and reeds during rubato passages of the title track, or slowly convinces the diatonic notes of his instrument to come forth with solely the bass clarinet supporting him. The resulting music is swinging, or lilting, or extravagantly magnificent, or even plaintive, but always stunningly beautiful. Gil Evans is among the select group of musicians and composers whose voicings were golden 100% of the time (Ravel, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, etc.).
The ten selections connect together in a ten-part suite, some of which was rehearsed without Miles (before he came to the studio and after he left). Springsville opens the album in fervid fashion, Miles' flugelhorn romping through the uptempo piece as if announcing a new man in town. The chords change so quickly that there seems to be no settling of a tonic, presenting no problem to the soloist. "Maids of Cadiz" slows the boat down, perhaps stopping at a village of beauteous (but forbidden?) maidens. The melody is lamented and unleashes percussive accents from the brass and silky chords of every type imaginable for Miles to gently state the melody over. Dave Brubeck's "Duke" could have been the "hit" of Side A of the record, featuring a half-time, happy, swinging melody that Miles states over rhythmic tuba and bouncy bass and drums - the solo section starts out with only horn accompanied by bass and drums, with strictly diatonic movement by the soloist joined by occasional preaching from the horn section. "My Ship," possibly one of jazz's most beautiful melodies, finds Evans really digging into the heart of the song to milk it for every note in the four and a half minutes of his orchestral rendition - the major ninth chords (with French horns stating the top note) create an unbelievably calm effect, combining nicely with Davis' subtle vibrato (Davis respecting the melody, barely embellishing it). Side A (I'd imagine, anyway) closes with the title tune, with Davis climbing down from his lookout tower and riding with the rest of the orchestra in a rhythmically unison statement. Davis solos over the mirthful chords, again, with such a diatonic approach - no tensional notes, no harmonic edge - yet his scalar flights fit perfectly with the rest of the orchestral palette.
"Side B" (let's stick with the LP theme) revisits the depressing minor mode with "Blues for Pablo," evoking the feeling that the boat has reached a city's commanding citadel fronted by a tough, demanding guard up front. For a large portion of this one, Miles steps out of the way and lets the orchestra release crunchy, dissonant voicings, bluesy figures, and punchy trumpet bombs. "New Rhumba" is definitely the "hit" of Side B, featuring an even more rhythmically appealing melody than "Duke." This masterpiece by Ahmad Jamal was the sole requested addition by Davis, and its sus4 chords and syncopated figures create a listening experience that is simply a testament to the orchestral wisdom of Evans. "Meaning of the Blues" slows the tempo back to the mellow Saturday night vibe, as if Miles were enunciating a story, the meaning of the blues, to a handful of listeners fascinated in his musical lore. The melody's chordal structure is similar to a combination between "Summertime" by Gershwin and "Wave" by Jobim - a mix of morose melodic statements and hopeful chords that look to the horizon. J.J. Johnson's "Lament," another candidate for jazz's most gorgeous melody, once again evokes the image of the orchestra surrounding Miles in a sizeable circular hedge (those who have seen any footage of this collaboration know that the orchestra did, indeed, form a circle, with Miles in the middle), and rather than his drowning, the result is his piercing tone stating the melody over the supporting horns. "Lament's" beauty simply can't be overstated, with its sequence of minor ninth chords (which Evans was a master of) finally resolving to a beautiful major destination at the end. The album closes with "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed," which could be the most conventionally jazzy of the melodies, following a rhythm changes structure and giving Miles a bass-drums solo background. The resulting music is so delicate and fine-spun - the orchestra ended its journey at the rose garden and along its tour doesn't hit a single thorn.
If you are listening to the version of Miles Ahead as part of the boxed set, you'll notice that every track has an alternate take. Good Lord, talk about "double or nothing!" So the listener can enjoy the album and listen through it once more, the second set different enough (in terms of melodic interpretation and improvisations) to keep things interesting.
Miles Ahead finds Miles and Gil Evans lamenting the world, celebrating its vastness, and creating an unspeakably variegated image of moods in the process. "Recommended" doesn't work - in lieu, how about, "there should be no opinion allowed - this music is artistically (and arguably aesthetically pleasingly) groundbreaking?"
The fact that it was mastered to sound as if the whole album is one piece, showing how important to both the LP format was as an art form. Each song complements each other, and although there are definite standouts, the fact that each song has room with each other is amazing. Jazz albums tend to be more song-oriented than album-centered, so it is a definite plus to find one that concentrates on both.
The definite highlights, "Springsville," "Miles Ahead," and "Blues for Pablo," have a flavor all of their own. "Springsville" is such a cheerful song with its uptempo and flugel runs. "Miles Ahead" is a masterpiece of jazz; the composition itself plays like a jazz standard, and the band perfectly complements Davis' solo spots. "Blues for Pablo" hints at what was to come with Porgy and Bess and conveys the blues a way a big band should: with subtlety and affection.
Kind of Blue will always be my favorite Miles Davis album and jazz album in general, and it is difficult to truly find my second-favorite Davis album. Miles Ahead is the one I've considered the most, just ahead of Sketches of Spain and 'Round About Midnight, for that coveted spot. It's beauty lies not with just what was on the album, but to what the album led. It made possible Sketches and Porgy, and it was a counterpoint to Davis' modal evolution, namely Milestones and Kind of Blue. To have that stance in the entire Miles Davis catalog is enough reason to recommend this album to all jazz enthusiasts, but the sheer strength of the album and compositions gives me reason to recommend this to the casual jazz listener. Start with Kind of Blue, but buy this soon after.