Recent listening, current

Thursday, October 3, 2013

142. Miles Davis / Miles Ahead (1957)

This album is the natural progression out of the Miles Davis Nonet style that was documented on The Complete Birth of the Cool. Davis and Evans deliver on the promise with a new band almost double in size. Davis is the only soloist, playing flugelhorn instead of trumpet. Evans is composer and arranger. The sound of the orchestra is lush and slick, clear evidence of the project's bigger budget. Evans' arrangements elegantly capitalize on the power of the massed pieces, and with Davis on the flugelhorn, there's a stately majesty at play. The playlist is arranged like one continuous performance (see Such Sweet Thunder by Duke Ellington). I love the way all the moods melt into one another, contrasting against a greater arc of musical story. The Spanish tinge of "Maids of Cadiz," for example, or the hard swinging "New Rhumba" (Ahmad Jamal) that explodes from "Blues for Pablo." It's magic, and essential listening for all jazz fans. No excuses!

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