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Miles Davis - On the Corner CD (album) cover

ON THE CORNER

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.79 | 64 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Although Miles' first attempts to break with jazz involved inspiring/paying jazz musicians to play rock based jams that were somewhat similar to improvisations by the The Grateful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and others, on On the Corner Miles strove to break even further with the jazz world. The success that former band mate Herbie Hancock had with mixing the new Sly Stone and James Brown inspired funk style with jazz made Miles a bit jealous, and he was out to connect with that younger 'street' crowd that Herbie had connected with.

As an attempt to mix commercial funk with jazz, On the Corner is a total failure, but the end result is something much better and more timeless than any of the other more commercial jazz/funk albums of that decade. This album is only remotely similar to Sly and James because Miles was still getting too much influence from Stockhausen, Sun Ra, psychedelic rock and the traditional music of Africa. The end result is a fascinating quiltwork of disjointed syncopated rhythms with constant, yet almost static, improvisations that bubble up through the thick mix of acid-lounge guitar, jazzy elecric piano, traditional Indian instruments, synthesizers and African persussion. Some might be put off by the fact that the disjointed drum beats rarely change, even as the music moves to a new track, but the static beat is what causes this music to freeze it's linear motion and begin to stretch out in a more horizontal manner.

My take on this album is that this is what traditional African music would sound like if it was played on 70s styled psychedelic electronic instruments. Originally it had been assumed that the only guitarist on here was McLaughlin, but slowly rumors surfaced that the lesser known Dave Creamer also provided some great guitar work. Once upon a time in the early 80s I was looking at music ads in the SF bay area and saw Creamer had an ad in which he offered guitar lessons. I talked with him about lessons and finally asked if he was one of the guitar players on On the Corner to which he cheerfully said yes. I finally admitted I couldn't afford lessons and he said with a classic hippie upbeat attitude to be sure and call him when I was on better financial ground. He was really a nice guy, and very patient with what was an obvious ploy to talk to a major cult figure from the murky and mysterious musical world of Miles Davis.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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