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

A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When it comes to Miles Davis' electric & highly experimental era, Bitches Brew has hogged a lot of the acclaim for years of unbelievable innovation. Critics often use it as the poster album of the period and as the album to compare avant-garde jazz albums to, jazz fans who for some reason don't put more time into Miles than any other artist will stick to that one, and recommend it sooner than any of the others. Serious Miles Davis fans, however, will probably tell you that the zenith of this era, as with the man's whole career, is actually quite hard to discern.

Coming hot off the heels of that one album was 1970's A Tribute to Jack Johnson. No, this isn't chronologically impossible. Rather than being an album of Davis' renditions of popular beach pop tunes, the mastermind pays a tribute to a famous African American boxer. After I cleared that up, I was able to tackle this album with a right mind. And man, was I stunned. These two songs of at least 25 minutes each continue to prove that Miles can do anything, and do it better than anyone. It's Miles' most rock-oriented set and it set the standard for all 70s fusion records. I once read a claim that he made saying he could create the greatest rock band we've ever heard. Maybe in the 21st century this album doesn't have much to show, but if you consider the time when it was released, shoot, he wasn't lying. The standard was certainly set high. While many great fusion albums came out in the decade, you may notice that a shockingly large number of them featured at least one member (often the leader of the band) who collaborated with Miles in previous years (A Tribute to Jack Johnson happens to feature John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Billy Cobham). And while Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana, Return to Forever and Weather Report all expanded on the innovation of those years, there is simply nothing that can replace Miles as a performer. His trumpet is irreplaceable and it shines constantly on this album, in ways the trumpet hadn't been used before to boot!

The first track, "Right Off," is a rocker, feauring one of the coolest jazz-rock riffs ever (at about 18:42) an obviously stellar jamming and all that good stuff. The second, "Yesternow," is a bit more mellow, but still holds its own with more great basslines, improvisations and atmosphere. What's extra interesting about this album is that it really did erupt spontaneously. John McLaughlin started fooling around with some chords while he was waiting for Miles in the studio. Then, Cobham and bassist Michael Henderson quickly joined in. For some reason or another, Herbie Hancock was passing through the building and was brought in to hop on the organ. Miles rushed in when he showed up and belted out one of the greasest solos of his career. That is just nuts!

While the man has released possibly more essential albums than anyone else in history, I would say that A Tribute to Jack Johnson still manages to stand out. Given it's length and that the material on here isn't as dense and avant-garde as Bitches Brew, it'll find its way into your ears more often. An absolutely marvelous album, and another testament to the genius that is Miles Davis.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#179600)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

After the astounding success of Bitches Brew, Davis took another risk, by presenting an album that was the soundtrack of a documentary of Jack Johnson, one of the first Afro-American to win the boxing crown (Boxing was one of Miles' fascinations) and the way some racist made him pay for it. Although the front artwork of this album shows Miles into one of his classic "pose" on stage, I always wondered why the back cover never made the front, because it is much more "ŕ propos" of the music and it's supposed subject.. Compared with the previous BB album, Miles' group has dwindled a bit, keeping Grossman, McL Cobham, , Grossman and Hancock (although he had his own formation called Mwandishi by now) and newcomer Henderson on bass.

Just two tracks, but this time (clocking at over 50 minutes), there is no doubt about it, Miles chose rock instead of jazz or that uncomfortable condition between the two. Originazlly intended with Buddy Miles (of Hendrix's band) on drums, Cobham shines as does McL (the two will leave Miles to found Mahavishnu Orchestra) with some of most incendiary riffs ever played .. With Hancock's rather discreet tenure of the keys, Steve Grossman's sax gives a good response to miles' trumpet throughout the album, but outside Miles, this John's album as well. The end of Right Off is a smoking moment that can only convince some that heavy metal was in Miles' reach had he chosen to. Having never seen the documentary film, I suppose I lose a lot of the pertinence of the music in the second track Yesteryear, where there are obvious moments where the images dictate the music and not the other way.

The remastered version brings nothing new in terms of bonus track, but provide a few interesting pictures of Miles in the ring, and the usual excellent light-shedding liner notes. Just as essential as BB, it's not perfect either, as you can imagine there are some lengths here and there.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#179610)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#203954)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars Yes, I understand that Miles was an amazingly good trumpet player. I know about his influence as an innovator in jazz.

But this album, on the whole is not that good.

It consists of two songs. The first, "Right Off", is primarily a jam, based on a rhythm that could be playing Jeff Beck's "Freeway Jam (I know this album was earlier). While the performance is good, the production and direction is extremely choppy. At one point, the band stops, Miles solos alone off in another direction, and what sounds like another take of the same jam fades in. Later on, the song almost ends, John McLaughlin begins a totally unrelated funk lick for a short time, and once again, the band fades in with the "Freeway Jam" thing. Then Herbie Hancock starts what sounds like an amazing organ solo, but ends it all too soon.

The second track is a bit better, the edits are not quite as obvious, but as noted in the notes on this album's page, part of the song is played by an almost completely different band. It gives the song a choppy feel.

The whole thing to me just doesn't play well. At least Miles' playing is great on it.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#228217)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Originally recorded as a Soundtrack for the documentary Jack Johnson which was not well received. Done over 2 sessions in April and November in 1970. Yesternow one of the only 2 tracks on the album was first. Produced by Teo Macero as usual and released on Columbia

The Band is John McLaughlin on Guitar, Herbie Hancock on Keyboards, Steve Grossman on Soprano Sax. Billy Cobham on Drums and Michael Henderson on Fender Bass. A bit of cut and paste was used for this album from the 2 Sessions by Teo Macero and other musicians were involved but not mentioned on the album.

Right Off which commences the album is one great Jazz/Rock composition that takes off from beginning to end with one section at the end of Miles solo which is the first of the tune when he changes to a mute on the trumpet. Sure the major part of his solo has a bit of repetition ( notes repeated) but that is what gives this tune that feel. Great solo off Herbie Hancock on Keyboard and John McLaughlin gives basically the undercurrent to the whole thing with those chords blasting through. By far the best of the tracks on the album.

Yesternow is okay but a bit to much meandering for me it does improve towards the end but not a lot. There are excerpts used from In a Silent Way in the composition. Both of the tracks are over 25 minutes long.

This album to me an essential part of my Miles collection but Yesternow drags it down a little.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Matthew T (BETA) | Report this review (#256719)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One from few Miles excellent jazz-rock albums. Contains just two compositions. The musicians all are extra class, including Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea,Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette,Bennie Maupin and Dave Holland between others.

First composition (or first LP side) is jam-like rockish composition with long interplays between Miles and McLaughlin electric guitar. All other musicians has time for them as well. Most unusual is the sound: clear, not over orchestrated, real rock band's playing sound. All music is groovy, energetic, and sounds more as rock, then jazz. Hancock's electric piano passages only makes this feeling stronger.

Second composition ( and second LP side) is slower and more complex. There are two line-ups, participated on recording. First half is recorded with the same musicians as the first compositions, but final half is recorded with participation of Miles, McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin, Dave Holland, and Sonny Sharrock. With bigger accent on complex drumming and bass line, this compositions sounds more like avant-jazz rock piece.

Overall, very electric and energetic, this album is almost unique in it's concept and sound (for Miles). Just imagine Miles playing jams with extra crafted rock band.

Even if accessible, this album is great work for Miles electric ( jazz-rock) period fans and one of style masterpieces.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#259649)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is so much better than Bitches Brew, it's not even fair. While that album went down in history as the essential Jazz- Rock album by Davis, this one, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, is one of the many Miles Davis records that more or less fell through the cracks over the years. But let me tell you, this is one of the best Jazz and/or Jazz-Rock records I have ever heard thus far. If you like fast, rocking guitar stylings paired with soaring, crazy trumpet work, this is your ultimate treat. For everybody else who knew Davis by his more well-known releases such as Bitches Brew and Kind Of Blue, I think you'll still find this album quite enjoyable, but it might not be as special to you as it is to folks like me, who typically like a bit of Jazz in their Rock rather than the other way around.

So, what makes this album so much better than Brew? Well, for one thing, it has a sense of direction. Now, I realize the whole point in many Jazz recordings is to improvise, play between the notes, and so forth. But this album has that, too. However, unlike the aforementioned release, there is plenty of air to breathe, here. There aren't dozens upon dozens of musical layers clashing with each other all the time, and so the music itself is more concise and enjoyable. There is still no shortage of classic Miles, here, but the album is a much more tamed beast. As far as I am concerned, this is the album people should point to when speaking of Davis' incredible capabilities as a Jazz-Rock musician. Bitches Brew was one big Avant-Garde experiment, and there are indeed some magical moments on that record, too, but I don't enjoy it as much as I do many of his other releases. However, A Tribute To Jack Johnson is among my favorite Davis albums of all time, and it's really hard to say what I might like more. It's just so brilliant, so vibrant and so full of life, I truly believe everybody needs to here this album at least once.

''Right Off'' is one of the greatest Jazz-Rock tunes ever recorded, as far as I am concerned. I may not be the upmost expert in these matters, but i can guarantee you nobody does this type of stuff better than Miles. The song starts off with an incredibly groovy distorted guitar lead by John McLaughlin. It's R&B mixed with Rock, and it works so incredibly well! Billy Cobham and Michael Henderson serve up a very tasty rhythm for McLaughlin to play over, and before too long they bring it down a few notches, allowing John's guitar to stand out and entrance the listener. The drums and bass soon come back in, and then the guitar starts to truly get into Jazz territory for the first time, playing some wonderful chords and rhythms.

Have you started to wonder where Miles is, yet? Well, not to worry. He finally makes his grand entrance around two minutes and twenty seconds in to this record. Boy, does he sound hot! It's amazing to hear how clear and alive all the instruments on this recording sound, but especially the trumpet. These amazing leads by Davis always get me hopping, and especially on such a hot recording like this, everything has been cranked up a few notches. Kind Of Blue, this is not, however it doesn't need to be. This is a whole new era in Miles Davis' repertoire, and it's one of my favorites.

The marriage between McLaughlin's guitar and Davis' trumpet is so mesmerizing, here. For the next few minutes, all that matters to me is that guitar and trumpet trade-off lead section. However, I must say, between the two minute mark and the six minute mark, it's pretty much all Miles in the flourish department. Although both men compliment each other's performances extremely well. There are moments here from Miles that absolutely send shivers up and down my spine. The man was a genius, what can I say?

So at around six minutes and thirty seconds, Davis lets McLaughlin take over completely, and so we begin to hear some killer psychedelic guitar flourishes while Davis takes the role of the backup partner. But this doesn't last long, and soon they are both ferociously playing at their highest caliber once again. Well into eight minutes, now, some of the more impressive drum work from Cobham begins to seep through, and man, is it ever amazing to hear! All of these guys are so spot-on in their positions, yet nothing becomes repetitive or boring. Always progressing and changing is the music, while still holding a solid grip on the rock- solid foundations laid down by Cobham and Henderson. Quite possibly my favorite moment from the first half of this epic track takes place just around 9:40 (courtesy of Miles, once again!). Soon after, the gears change again, and this song's middle section is almost upon us.

So now we are about ten minutes and fourty-five seconds in. Here is where I saw some other reviewers start to complain about the supposed 'choppy' feel to this record. The rest of the instruments die away and a very trippy, psychedelic, effects-heavy section of the song begins. I do believe it's trumpet, still, but it's clearly distorted and reverbed to the extreme to give it a very dreamy quality (it might even be Steve Grossman's sax, which is actually really hard for me to distinguish from Miles on this record, for some reason). Meanwhile the only other thing you can hear besides this is a distant. groaning ambience that gives me an uneasy feeling. Cool! See, being a fan of Prog Rock, which is a very studio-heavy genre anyway, I personally have no problem with edits, studio effects or things such as that. However, if you're coming from a more Jazz-oriented background, it's very possible you may find moments like this one disjointed, and if you're a purist, you probably won't like the post-production effects done, here. However, looking at it from my perspective, I don't see how this song feels all that disjointed at all. I suppose these types of tracks are typically looked at as long jam sessions, and to interrupt the flow of the song to make way for a psychedelic breakdown might ruin the song for some. But for the more adventurous listeners, I think you'll really like it.

This small part of the track only lasts for about a minute thirty, anyway (if that!), and soon the rest of the band comes back in again. It's obviously more toned down, now, but just as exciting, i think, as the first half of the song. Now for the next few minutes, a tradition is apparent in which the rest of the musicians will subdue their playing, allowing for only one or two of the players to have a moment to themselves to really shine. I like it. McLaughlin's flange guitar effects are heard in the distance, and adds a really psychedelic quality to it all.

Around fifteen minutes in to this twenty-seven minute track, we finally hear Herbie Hancock very prominently. He plays a funky solo for around a minute, then stops briefly. The next time he can be heard, he is holding a chord on his organ that shoots a sense of urgency and/or dread into the song, and Cobham rushes in with his tight, amazing drum flourishes leading us into the next groovy breakdown of the song. Hancock plays a simple chord sequence and McLaughin jams along as Davis comes back in once again. This continues until around 18:34 when suddenly, the entire tempo and direction of the song changes on a dime. Out of nowhere, this song has now become John McLaughlin's , and I'm certainly not complaining. He plays some really remarkable grooves during this part of the song. Is my head bobbing? Oh, yes. The Rock influence has never been more obvious.

Over twenty minutes into this, and John McLaughlin now recapitulates the same style and rhythm he was playing back at the very start. Hancock edges in with long, gentle notes, and then begins to play off of John's riffing, adding his own spin to this groove. At this point, I'm not even missing Miles. Both of these guys are fantastic. Less than five minutes to go, now. Hancock is playing some absolutely wonderful organ leads with John keeps strumming away. Finally, Miles begins to pipe up again (or is it Grossman?), and it's probably the most Avant-Garde moment in the song. It's wonderfully exciting. One final hurrah for McLaughlin hits with less than three minutes to go. He's been warming up the whole song, and now he's finally let off the leash. This lead by him is absolutely worth the wait. Also, during this time, we finally hear a very prominent, noteworthy performance by Michael Henderson, as well. In fact, he and Hancock are the most audible players as the song finally fades out, bringing to a close one of the most exciting Jazz-Rock moments I have ever heard.

And, oh yeah . . . that's just the first song!

Again, there is plenty of classic Jazz approach and attitude in this; nothing is lacking as as the experimentation and improvisation goes. The music stays unpredictable and exciting, and yet, the drums keep a steady beat, the bass accents those with wonderful precision, and that still allows Miles and John to experiment like crazy overtop. The big problem I have with Bitches Brew is that every single instrument on those recordings rarely seem to work in unison at any time. It's as if every musician is playing to his own song, and while that makes the music complex and interesting, it doesn't make for much actual enjoyment for me. I would much rather listen to what's on Jack Johnson than what's on Brew. But again, that's a personal thing, and I realize many people think just the opposite, but please do yourself a favor and make sure you pick this album up if you haven't already, because it doesn't get nearly as much credit as I think it deserves.

There are so many riches to be found here, that honestly I don't think any of the complaints made are good ones. Yeah, sure, you can say that some obvious cut-and-paste moments here and there ruin the music, but that's rubbish. There are plenty of exciting extended moments on continuos music, here, and this whole record is absolutely worth investigating if you're a fan of Jazz-Rock at all. I consider it one of the essentials, for me. Hopefully it will mean the same to you. The lesser moments are few, and the amazing moments are frequent. You decide if that's enough reason to pick this thing up, or not. This is a true Jazz-Rock album, and as far as I am concerned, it is also one of the best.

Very, very happy listening.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#269891)
Posted Friday, March 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A Tribute to Rock & Roll

You may have wondered when listening to 'In a Silent Way' and 'Bitches Brew', where's exactly the rock part of these jazz improvisations? Well, the rock aspects on those albums are indeed subtle, more so in 'In a Silent Way', however this is where 'A Tribute to Jack Johnson' comes to the scene, Miles finally pulled off an album that 'rock' fans could identify themselves with.

Please, if you have purchased this, don't play it on your computer, just put it on your CD player, set the volume to 11 and prepare yourself to be blown-away literally. Immediately with McLaughlin's bluesy and powerful chords, Cobham's steady beat and Henderson's splendid bass line, you'll know that Miles Davis has finally added real 'rock' to his music. It's only a matter of time until Miles appears with his energetic trumpet and makes this 27 minute "rock jazz" (not jazz rock) jam what it is. If you're not a fan of long rock jams, I doubt you can get through this, but if you're able to keep yourself awake through 27 minutes of pure energy, this is one heck of a treat! All players are shifting lines and rhythms and making this one of the most enjoyable simple rock tunes ever! However, Herbie Hancock doesn't appear till minute 15, and Jesus Christ! The way he appears out of nowhere is totally awesome and ROCKIN'! He's playing an ol' Organ and it sounds amazing. Definitely any real 'rock' fan must listen to this.

The second and final track entitled 'Yesternow' is quite a different treat, though. It sends you back to the 'In a Silent Way' time, both stylistically and literally, since Miles decided to cut a part of 'Shhh/Peaceful' and paste it in the middle of 'Yesternow', yeah odd, but it suits well. The first half of this tune is quite gentle and hypnotic, a solid bass line going on and some wah-wah guitar and trumpet appearances. However, after the re-appearance of 'Shhh/Peaceful', the tune gets groovier with a change of bass line, but still the song is rather calm in 'rock' terms. Definitely this doesn't stand up to the standards of the opener, though it's decent by its own means, but it could have been much better.

Not a masterpiece, that's clear because one half of the album isn't really great and the first half is actually a jam, but what a jam it is! It's such a jam that it makes the album worth of buying alone. Of course, if you're one of those who has been "fooled" when they told you that 'Bitches Brew' and 'In a Silent Way' were jazz rock albums, this album will cure your sorrow.

4 stars, not less nor more. An excellent "rock jazz" addition to any prog rock or jazz rock music collection. An essential album if you're a fan of long rock jams, this album is one of the many unique releases by Miles Davis.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#292163)
Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Following right after the out-worldly Bitches Brew, it's hard to believe we're listening to a Davis album here, especially considering it's coming from virtually the same band that did the two previous releases. Davis sure returned back on earth for this one, but I can't say the touchdown is a very graceful one.

Right Off starts with a simple blues-rock riff that could be from any random early 70 classic rock. It isn't till Davis blows the horn that we hear any indication it really is one of his albums. That wouldn't be a problem as such, it's good hearing an artist trying out a different approach, but the problem is that the music is just plain and boring, never rising above average rock jamming. Around minute 19, McLaughnin comes up with an excellent funky riff but it ends as abruptly as it started, never developing into something more then just a riff and disconnected from all other jammy stuff around it.

The second track is more deserving, returning to the brooding fusion of the two preceding albums, enigmatic and inspiring, and building up more consistently then the cut and paste job that was Right Off, halfway in it changes to a different improvisation, recorded from another session but fitting in quite smoothly, featuring a great guitar groove and spacey synth effects before everything settles down to a very relaxing dreamy mood.

This is one of those occasions where I wonder if I heard the same album as everybody else. I hear two tracks, a dull one and an excellent but hardly surprising one, balancing out to a merely good release. But then what do I know? I didn't even know who Jack Johnson was till he was so forthcoming to introduce himself at the very end :-)

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#297618)
Posted Monday, September 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Tribute to Jack Johnson is not what you expect from a jazz album. It's not even what you expect from a jazz fusion album, the pieces of rock and roll and jazz refusing to intertwine as gracefully as a band such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra would demand. In spirit, and in tone, it may be closer to the blues than anything else. It's the day as it passes you by on the corner, it's beer and hot, trashy food from a local vendor, it's a sweaty, filthy old man lusting after some sweet young thing because he's got nothing to lose from pursuing his baser instincts. It's grimy, it's gritty, and most of all, it feels undoubtedly, indescribably real.

Right off the bat, you can plainly see that Miles, even if he was in his 40s when the album came out, understands the tone and ambition of unbridled youth. Remember, this music served as a tribute to a black man who would unapologetically destroy his white opponents in the ring and later sleep with their wives, back in an era where simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and having the wrong colored skin could put you on the end of a branch. Jack Johnson's brashness, fearlessness and pride are captured perfectly in the first song, "Right Off". John McLaughlin jams along with guitar riffs deep and crackly enough to make even John Lee Hooker do a double take. Miles' soloing is joyous but sharp-he's having a good time, but don't let that stop you from thinking he doesn't have something to prove. Billy Cobham doesn't get much opportunity to stretch his legs, but he keeps a thick, funky rhythm throughout, and if he isn't already, than Michael Henderson, young as he was at the time, deserves a spot next to Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham as one of the best funk bassists to have ever lived: His bass lines are as smooth as silk and heavy as stone. Herbie Hancock puts in an appearance during the last 10 minutes that sends off the first 2/3rds of the song before it ends with an electrifying guitar-centered jam, courtesy of John McLaughlin. While it stretches a bit long in places, "Right Off", with all its verve and boldness, is truly one of the finest jams ever recorded.

"Yesternow", while a bit less driving a bit more mellow, is no less powerful in its own right. If Henderson was great on the first track, than he's positively transcendent here-his bass lines build the foundation of the song, and stick out on their own as being chill but forceful, a combination many bassists would kill to achieve. Cobham gets a bit more room to improvise, since the song structure is less demanding, and John McLaughlin's guitar gains a psychedelic, near Hendrix-like attitude that seeps in and around the music. Miles himself has a relatively wide berth from the song, but when he does play it's the same mix of unshakable calm and jagged bravado. One would think that a complete lineup change halfway through the song would spell catastrophe, but while it is jarring at first, it soon gains a funky, badass edge that's only befitting as a tribute for one of the funkiest badasses who ever lived. "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" ends the exact same way it began-with its finger on the trigger and a devilish smile spreading across its face.

This album is a rather singular entity in the musical landscape. No album before or since has mixed such technical complexity with such honest, streetwise intensity. It certainly isn't a perfect album-as I alluded to earlier, parts of it are too long and there's a frustrating lack of closure on the first track-but I'm going to go right ahead and call this "Essential" anyway, since this belongs in the collection of any jazz fan, any rock fan, hell, any MUSIC fan who'd like to take a walk on the wild side. "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" is as groovy as you can get without actually being George Clinton, and it sends a clear message to the musical world of the 1970s: "Are you listening? Because THIS is how it's done."

"I'm Jack Johnson -- heavyweight champion of the world! I'm black! They never let me forget it. I'm black all right; I'll never let THEM forget it."

Never do, Jack. You neither, Miles.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to 40footwolf (BETA) | Report this review (#298820)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is hard for me to put into words what this album did, for what I believed Jazz was, I was so blown away by this music 12 years ago the first time I heard it. I was only familiar with Miles Davis as an aging Jazz artist who was Mixing it up with Hip Hop Artists and showing up at anti apartheid benefits concerts in the late 80's, I found a copy of this session in a used cd bin, The cover was intriguing. Quite simply this album opened the door to the rest of his catalog, and pointed me into the direction of Progressive Music.

This really comes off as straight ahead rock, with a sprinkling of jazz, then the moody second half almost reminds me of early Tangerine Dream. But The trumpet Is the story here, muscular and full of brashness, I have a hard time Finding Davis in Better Technical Form anywhere else in his discography. The funky in the pocket Bass by Michael Henderson sets the rock foundation. Herbie Hancock slithers around on keyboards, and John Mclaughlin plays some very bluesy rock runs. Though a studio performance, It has always felt like a live album, I suppose due to the loose atmosphere and Hancock just coming of the street to play the Hammond B-3 leads to this. it's essentially a jam session. This album will always hold a special place in my heart. this is in my opinion the most fully realized rock jazz album Davis did, as apposed to most of his music being more jazz than rock. Only Dark Magus comes close.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to darkprinceofjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#391942)
Posted Tuesday, February 01, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Miles Davis: A Tribute To Jack Johnson is simply a masterpiece, and wherever you see this album is a gem. Surrealistic, abrasive, radical, visceral, witty, playful, etc., there is no adjective that can describe this album. It should be mentioned that this lp is on the second stage of Davis, where the influences made a new configuration, and the jazz retransformed to give new ways of interpreting, thinking. This is only a fragment of the second moment that kept the afroamerican at the top of jazz not only as a pilot but as structure and form. Seems to be too much praises for an album, I think this well deserves it. Five out of five.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Diego I (BETA) | Report this review (#428165)
Posted Tuesday, April 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Jazz heavyweights...

Although there are a host of other notable namesakes, this album pays homage to the world renown boxer of the early 20th century.

The Good: There are many things I love about this album but my particular favourite is the way it 'went down'. The opening track doesn't feature Miles Davis for the first few minutes because he was late to his own recording session, so the other musicians got bored and just started jamming without him! This nonchalant approach to music making of the highest caliber is almost inconceivable today, but I guess when your 'other musicians' include the likes of John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock and Billy Cobham then one might actually call it inevitable. The all star cast does not disappoint and the result is one of Davis' very finest records of this era, on a par with In a Silent Way.

The Bad: Nothing really. Although if I was pushed I would say some sections of Hereafter are a little too abstract for my taste.

The Verdict: Well worth the wait.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#437679)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Coming after the groundbreaking works of In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON. It is clearly less ambitious, both in conception and scope. Instead, MIles dedicates himself to record a real rock and roll album. JACK JOHNSON is also the last album of the seventies that he would record with an acoustic trumpet.

Right Off, that takes all side A, is the most conventional rock track Miles ever recorded. If it were not for his guitar-like trumpet one could hardly say that this was recorded by a jazzman. It is a very good track, but I regret the fact that in its 25 minutes, only the very last are devoted to a John McLaughlin's solo. It is also clear that John is not aiming for virtuosity here, but for rock and roll's raw power.

Yesternow turns the volume and speed down considerably. It lacks, though, the inspiration, the novelty and the melodic appeal of the track in In a Silent Way, to which it is related. Therefore, I see it as a bit of a disappointment. It is mostly because of it that I take one star off from JACK JOHNSON.

One could say this is his most "conservative" album from the period. It is certainly (for me, at least) not his most original. But if you look from the jazz standpoint, it is the most radical departure from jazz form, and I respect that.

It is clear that, after the free floating orgasmic chaos of Bitches Brew, Miles was looking for a cleaner sound. JACK JOHNSON is not exactly his most rock and roll album. Right Off is his most rock and roll track, that's what it is. Thinking of it, some see JACK JOHNSON as the full realisation of Miles's fusion, and some other even as his best fusion album. I disagree. But you cannot fairly ask for a revolution per year.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to bfmuller (BETA) | Report this review (#510549)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1138896)
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was not aware any history of Miles Davis and I only knew that he was a trumpet player in jazz music. Nothing more that I knew about him until a friend of mine whom a proghead introduced me that Miles is actually one of pioneers in prog music. Is it? So I tried to get to know the music and purchased the CD of Kind of Blue. Nothing that quite impressed me but how productive he had been as 52 studio albums were released by him. It's a great achievement.

I thought then that Jack Johnson was a jazz musician and I finally know that he is a boxer who in the past never been defeated. And this album bya Miles Davis is depicting how the life of Jack Johnson was. It surprised me that this album comprised two tracks only or something similar to Jethro Tull "Thick as a Brick" or "A Passion Play" but in here there are jazz beat. I have to admit that Jack Johnson is an excellent and in its particular concentration of biting, staccato rock,it's quite unique. The musicians that support this studio album are excellent . John McLaughlin has stated that he spontaneously started playing the straight-ahead rock shuffle "Right Off" and that Miles, characteristically, went with it; in any case, this song is as some critics say it is the closest thing to pure rock music Miles ever attempted. Drummer Cobham whom I knew later is also here in this record with his simple beats and I do not realize it's him playing unless the inlay say so. Bassist Henderson just grooves along the track and it's for the first time he joined Miles Davis after he played for Stevie Wonder.

The two tracks featured here are all basically jam session music even though the style between the two are different. It's a must for those who loved jazz music especially the fusion part. Keep on proggin'!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1140130)
Posted Saturday, March 01, 2014 | Review Permalink

MILES DAVIS A Tribute to Jack Johnson ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of MILES DAVIS A Tribute to Jack Johnson


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | GeoIP Services by MaxMind | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.28 seconds