This album is a pretty odd choice for me. While I definitely count myself as a fan, I have pretty much zero knowledge of this era. I drive to work every morning the same time Phil Schaap does his show on WKCR so I have at least a passing knowledge of Miles’ time with Charlie Parker. My only deep knowledge of the man’s work comes from his electric era and a bit just before that. It’s funny that this is precisely the time period most reviled by jazz purists. Basically I have a passing knowledge of the time period where Miles was most buried in the mix and had yet to develop a real voice for himself (Charlie Parker Quintet era), and the era in which he was doing his absolute best to anger the very people who expected him to produce album after album that resembled Kind of Blue year after year. Miles Davis of the early seventies seems like a big middle finger to conservative sensibilities.
Perhaps despite logic, this is the Miles Davis I was instantly drawn to when I first began to explore jazz.
So enough of what this album is not to me and on to what it is to me. At the outset I suppose I was kind of struck by how straightforward the album is. Even though he doesn’t stand out overly with his contributions to his Charlie Parker, they are much busier than this is. I am not sure if I ignored this era because it doesn’t punch you in the face like his other work does but it does lack the bombast that I am so accustomed to in Miles’ work. Not to say I have anything to complain about really, my faith in Miles Davis is pretty great and listening to something outside my comfort zone as regards him is only a good thing. I do find it amazing that something this different still is instantly recognizable as his work though. Miles’ trumpet has that clear ring that he maintained throughout his entire career, at least the part of his career that I know. I still admittedly have big gaps in my Miles Davis vocabulary. One thing I definitely see here is the convention of each person soloing in turn, this seems very traditionalist to me. Again, it is only the late fifties here and Miles still has a long way to travel before he gets to what I fell in love with. He couldn’t break too many conventions at once.
Rating: 4 of 5