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Miles Davis - A Tribute to Jack Johnson CD (album) cover

A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.23 | 139 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I had no idea what to expect with this one. To me Jack Johnson is a guitarist / singer / songwriter who plays poppy folk but he wasn't even born yet when this one came out. Having no interest in boxing I was clueless that this was in fact a soundtrack that was created to accompany a documentary about the boxer Robert Christgau who later took on the name Jack Johnson. I also thought it was strange that a jazz musician would compose a tribute to a boxer. Well it turns out that Davis was asked to do this and because he related to the life story of Johnson he decided to take on the project.

After I popped this in for the first time I was perplexed a second time. This starts out sounding like a rock album. No jazz at all. I had to check the CD to make sure it was the right one. Yep. Sure was. OK. Play on I did. It turns out that much of this 2 track album was improvised totally by accident. That bluesy guitar we hear on the opening track "Right Off" was basically John McLaughlin improvising a B flat chord on his guitar while waiting for DAVIS to show up. Herbie Hancock who just happened to be in the building was brought in on the spot and added his keyboards. One thing led to another and a side long track was born. The second track "Yesternow" is one very long spaced out and repetitive number. Taking up half of the album this is long and lends to a hypnotizing state that for me is better served as background music than full-on attention mode as it is a slow subtly changing variation on a B-flat chord finally changing to a C minor half way through.

This album represents the total cross-pollination of the music of the era. No longer was progressive music just rock borrowing from classical and jazz, but now the other way around and although Davis started this on IN A SILENT WAY, he was a master of changing things up on every album and this album only takes that strategy further. In fact his fusion shows an appreciation for Sly And The Family Stone in "Right Off' where it contains a riff from "Sing A Simple Song" and on "Yesternow" the main bassline is a version of "Say It Loud ... I'm Black And I'm Proud" by James Brown. Although I can't say this is my favorite MILES DAVIS album, I sure think it's a very good one despite it sounding a tad repetitive on the second track but it is perhaps the most rockin' of his entire career.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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