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


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.20 | 197 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars My dad loved boxing.There wasn't much else he was into. He didn't listen to music, I never saw him read a book, he wasn't into sports or watching TV, unless of course "the fights" were on. I respected my dad for being hard working and honest, he was 6' 1" and close to 300 pounds with a brushcut. He also had a bad temper, but fortunately he never drank. 3 packs of Rothmans a day were his habit. I didn't have the greatest relationship with my dad but when I think of boxing I think of my dad and the times we'd sit in front of the TV to see the next great fight. My dad had these old Everlast boxing gloves that I used more then he did, I loved shadow boxing and would eventually get a heavy bag to pound. Anyway this record from Miles Davis was the soundtrack for a documentary on the life of the first African American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. I remember watching lots of old footage of Jack Johnson on the TV with my dad. Johnson always intimidated me, he looked so huge. He was undefeated from 1908-1915 but the white establishment didn't know how to handle him. At the end of this album an actor portraying Jack says these words "I'm Jack Johnson heavyweight champion of the world. I'm black, they never let me forget it. I'm black alright, i'll never let them forget it". Great pictures of Miles in the liner notes too in the boxing ring working out. He was a huge fight fan and obviously Jack Johnson was one of his heroes. A lot of similariteis between Jack and Miles too.They were both trail blazers, very talented, and did things the way they wanted to. No one told them what to do or how to do it.

There are two side long tracks here. The first one "Right Off" begins with McLaughlin improvising on his guitar while Cobham and Henderson (bass) lay the groundwork. Henderson by the way was just 19 years old and fresh off a tour with Stevie Wonder, this was his first album with Miles. Anyway this sounds awesome ! Miles comes in before 2 1/2 minutes and they jam. Nice. It changes after 11 minutes as the rhythm stops and only Miles can be heard. It kicks back in a minute later. It settles again after 13 1/2 minutes with bass and sax standing out. Herbie Hancock comes in on the Farfisa organ after 15 minutes. Interesting story about Herbie being in the building on unrelated business and just passing by to say "hi". Anyway Miles had to talk him into playing this Farfisa organ that Herbie had never played before. He said "no" a few times but Miles wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So Hancock sits down and they recorded what he started to play. I mean he comes in cold, never having played a Farfisa, and he just rips it up for 3 minutes. Guitar and drums then lead the way after 18 1/2 minutes. Herbie's back after 21 minutes.Sax after 23 minutes. Hancock and McLaughlin are on fire after 25 minutes as drums and bass continue. Holy hell check out the guitar ! As amazing as this track is, and man this has to be the closest Miles got to straight up "Rock" I think I like the next song even better.

"Yestermow" opens with bass, guitar and trumpet sounds that come and go in an atmospheric setting. Drums after 2 1/2 minutes as it starts to build slowly. Sax comes in at 11 minutes. Great section before 12 minutes as it gets louder. A change 12 1/2 minutes in as it settles and a new section starts with Jack DeJohnette on drums Chick Corea on keys and Dave Holland on bass. Bass and trumpet start to lead the way after 14 minutes. Check out McLaughlin 15 minutes in. This continues until 24 minutes in when it turns sort of dreamy as the rhythm stops. A reflective ending which ends with that Jack Johnson quote.

Another masterpiece from Miles Davis that has special meaning to me beyond the music.

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |


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