Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet

This is a Miles Davis Quintet album. This features John Coltrane on it. I like Ole' Johnny, I happen to own Ballads on vinyl. I eventually want more (like one of the other top notch Impulse! albums) but that's all I got right now. Something that should be noted also is that this was recorded in 1956 three years before it's December 1959 release. I also like some of Red Garland's stuff, Paul Chamber has a solid solo album with Coltrane I heard and Philly Joe shows up on various albums I have heard or want to hear. This entire album, with the exception of Half Nelson, was recorded May 11th, 1956. The other track was recorded October 26th of the same year. There are also some other albums that exist that contain this same quintet and sessions. Cookin' (Oct. 26th), Relaxin' (May 11/Oct. 26th mostly) and finally Steamin' (both sessions, mostly May 11th). So, unless you absolutely love these tracks, chances are there will be duds since they spread it over four albums.
  1. It Never Entered My Mind: This is a cover of the Rodgers & Hart tune that originates from the Higher and Higher musical. There has been many versions of this song, one of which was on Frank Sinatra's 1955 classic In the Wee Small Hours. I just reviewed not that long ago. This opens with gorgeous piano arpeggios. Giving it a sort of classical, Fur Elise type feeling or Moonlight Sonata vibe. It's kind of dark a bit. There is a grit to the trumpet that I really like, that I'm sure would sound great on vinyl. By the time the drums have their brushes and the arpeggiations end, I feel as thought I want to light a cigarette. Walk down a cold street and think. This song very much fits the tone of the album cover. I like it a lot. There are also bits of New York State of Mind I hear in Red's playing. And the ending is quite fun, and has a bit of a happy feeling rather than melancholy. Kind of like while he was walking he saw something and it reminded him of something good and he was happy. Maybe he went to a friends apartment, before going to the head and having a quite phenomenal tune.
  2. Four: This is one of only three tunes credited to Davis that are featured on the record. The reason I say credited is because, up until 1983 no on claimed it was by anyone other than Miles. But I guess some blues singer, Eddie Vinton, said he wrote it and gave it to Miles because he had no use for it. The story was maybe confirmed when someone wrote a book and said, there was no problem with the false credit until now. So whatever, this has a bop feeling to it and is pretty standard in my opinion. There isn't anything here that is bad, but there isn't anything that is mind blowing. At the start it feels not as urgent as some other tracks in the style I like. Everything comes together well, and there is a nice little drum that trades 4 with the other intruments, but this track doesn't do much outside of just being standard. Probably like a 7/10.
  3. In Your Own Sweet Way: This is a cover of the Dave Brubeck tune, who sadly couldn't be there to play. That would have been fucking awesome, to be honest. Sadly I don't think Miles and Dave ever played together on the same song. But this track is just okay, it isn't blowing my mind or anything. In fact to make sure I wasn't just spacing out or not that it's just a tune I don't like, I even re listened to three other versions of the tune. The versions from Brubeck Plays Brubeck, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery and Bradenburg Gate: Revisited. And surprisingly there exists no version of the four I have heard that I like that much. Yeah Wes is the most pleasant to hear, the 1956 BPB version is very boring because it's solo piano, this version is just okay, nothing special, and the BG:R version is actually really good but I feel like I am unsure as if I'll revisit the easy listening string section, but it probably will warm my heart a bit....... I don't know. But that's my favorite I've heard, it just needed more going on I guess.
  4. The Theme (Take 1): Here is another Miles tune. This is another chill tune, that works and is pretty solid. I can't say I'm loving it, but it is only 2 minutes long. It is weird though, there is nothing thematic or even like theme feeling about it that I'm getting. Given it could just be the name, but I don't feel like this would be a memorable tune, outside of that quote at the ending.
  5. Trane's Blues: This may come as a shocker but this track was written by Johnny. Again we get another tune that works well and is quite enjoyable, but I get nothing out of it. Honestly it just feels like a long track that comes and won't end. Johnny is great, but he isn't God and is capable of doing wrong.
  6. Ahmad's Blues: Here's another shocking writer credit, guess who this one was written by..... Ahmad Jamal. Jamal is a piano player, so I do think there are some tasty piano playin' in this introduction and it did perk my ears up after that last track. Honestly this feels much more interesting and I like the bass line and how the drums and piano play in syncopation at parts. This is fun and has a different taste to those other tracks in between the opener and this. Also I like the addition a cello, I looked it up and the instrument is clearly bowed. Plus I don't hear the bass playing while the string solo is happening.  Now my ears could be retarded but it also sound vaguely reminiscent of a quite bass clarinet. Like a muddled not as pronounced. I don't know, but I know that the piano trading with the drums works very well on this track where it was just okay on Four and I am feeling the track. It's much more inspired and lively than the other one. Philly Joe is really making me smile with all those drum rolls and the having fun. There is a nice good feeling to this.
  7. Half Nelson: This is the third and final, thought the next track is just a different take of the song of the same name, song by Miles. I know its I'm because of the wrestling move, but I always picture Willie Nelson when I hear this name :'D. Seriously. Maybe it was the shot that I needed but this drum introduction really gave me hope. Then the urgency of the the track reminds me of a straight Ornette Coleman and other good tracks that are in this fast hard bop style such as Giant Steps. This track isn't phenomenal, but is definitely was filling a void much needed on this album. It works quite well thought it's more of a 7 again.
  8. The Theme (Take 2): This is just take two of The Theme, which was by Davis. It kind of comes and goes, I don't really have much that I retained from it.
Overall I have to give this album a 6/10. Don't get me wrong, I love jazz. While I'm not as nuts about cool jazz or hard bop I do still enjoy albums like Time Out!, Heartplants, DakarJazz by Sun Ra, Pre-Bird, CarnivalThe Blues and Abstract Truth, Something Else! and Outward Bound. The stinger is that most of these are like a lot of rock records to me, they have an idea and record songs but don't really spend time pushing themselves. Now I am very aware rock records used to be put out yearly, but if you look at the sessions for any jazz musician and how many hours, songs, and takes were in thoses sessions and how much of the material was released. I'd be exhausting my creativity if I was using it too.  But that doesn't mean that this album or that album is equal, some happen to have better performances and songs and solos. This has good moments but I just don't jive with all the noise. I mean I also am not that smitten with a full front to back listen to Kind of Blue, but that's for a different reason than this which I will explain in detail in that review. Miles is great, don't get me wrong, it's just never base your opinion off praise for music.

Also I'm figuring on doing a review of Atomic Bomb in honor the the passing of WIlliam Onyeabor.

No comments:

Post a Comment