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Miles Davis - On the Corner CD (album) cover

ON THE CORNER

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.80 | 65 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars One of the harsh critics Miles faced during his electric awakening was that he was purposely playing to whiter audiences, whichof course was idiotic since plenty of white people listened to his 60's quintet albums or his 50's projects as well. So After the Jack Johnson bracket, where the last spoken words sounded like a threat; Miles 's next studio venture was set to appeal to an African-American audience by re-directing it towards funk, thus creating jazz-funk (as opposed to jazz rock) and displaying a black ghetto artwork. But ultimately this didn't change much his music or Miles' audience, lots of white fans calling this album their favourite, although it's not my case.

Clearly miles took a listen at Sly Stone's funk (and probably James Brown's as well) and started asking his musicians to play funk grooves and keep them up so the frontmen could solo away; while some of these funk rhythms or grooves can be very complex, it appears that they're just staying stuck in that groove, not veering away. This is the first significant change, but it brings also the soloists up front to slightly adapt their play, McLaughlin's guitar (the only track in which he appears) never sounding to acid, while Miles' near-brutal trumpet growls are filling the air. on the title track suite opening the album. Around the end of the track, it veers into an in Indian .music through sitar and tabla drums (Walcoot of Oregon is a guest on three tracks) to metamorphose the funk into a raga. Black Satin picks up that raga, but soon abandons it for some ward Spanish castanet thing, but the whole thing is messy as a George Clinton's Funkadelic album.

The tracks on the flipside are in the same kind of un-moulded mould, very chaotic and not much more accessible, the lengthy Helen Butte/Mr Freedom X holds some superb passages. Miles is also fiddling with many electronic sounds throughout the album, but nowhere is that more evident than on this last track. This is the kind of thing that will give Hancock ideas for his Mwandishi group, first with Gleason as an extra and then handling them himself.

While I am generally anything but square and orderly about music, I find that On The Corner is an incredible mess, with plenty of unneeded lengths, tedious , repetitive and monotonous rhythms and solos, most grooves (usually good , at first) overstaying their welcome in almost every case. No matter how much weaker I think this album is compared to its previous studio effort, I still call this album essential, because it's one of the first example of jazz-funk in history. So it sits proudly in my shelves right next to its better cousins, but gets much less regular spins. .

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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