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Miles Davis - Get Up With It CD (album) cover

GET UP WITH IT

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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js (Easy Money)
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Get Up With It was Miles' last studio album before he took a long break, and shows him at the absolute apex of his mid-70s creativity. All the elements he had been experimenting with are here, crazy psychedelic guitars, Stockhausen influenced attempts to stretch time and space, futuristic polyrhythmic African grooves and bizarre, almost satirical de-constructionist takes on common blues, funk and rock licks all combine to make an album that was way ahead of it's time in the mid-70s, and still sounds modern to this day.

Songs like Rated X and Mtume stand out with their polyrhythmic wall of wah-wah guitars, percussion, bass and distorted organ recreating a futuristic psychedelic yet somewhat traditional African music. On Honky Tonk the band stretches common funk riffs into pointillist abstraction by slowing down the time and leaving a lot of space between their interactions. Maiysha opens with a loungey latin groove that becomes strangely unsettling and menacing before the song eventually breaks into a harsh blues riff played at a numbingly slow tempo while psychedelic guitar wizard Pete Cosey's solo sounds like it was recorded on a tape that was underwater and slipping badly, this is absolute de-constructed blues from beyond hell.

Another stand-out track is Calypso Frelimo, this song takes up side three as it winds itself through different sections before it ends with a chaotic, almost punkish, double-time African jam that has gutarists Cosey and Reggie Lucas trading harsh distorted psych-funk licks with weird repeated spaghetti western type melodies. This totally bizarre song always has something new to hear in it's thick collage of almost incongruos sounds.

Probably the best song on the album, and the most prophetic and forward looking, is He Loved Him Madly, a lengthy improvisation which takes up all of side one. On this cut Miles presents two guitars, flute, bass, drums and percussion playing a patient and slow unfolding of musical events that is part Stockhausen and part raga before the percussion kicks in. Anywhere from ten to twenty years ahead of it's time, this song would pre-date much of the ambient, new-age and trip-hop music that would follow in it's wake. Brian Eno has often praised this song for what an effect it had on his own musical direction.

It is really hard to describe this album and do it justice, words like rock and funk etc could apply to millions of albums, but there is no album like this one, fueled with a malicious sense of mischief, a dark sarcastic sense of humor and tempered with a deep love for music, and a love for those that feel as strongly about music as he does, Miles produced an absolute masterpiece, an album that never could, nor never will be repeated.

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Send comments to js (Easy Money) (BETA) | Report this review (#193943)
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Get Up With It' - Miles Davis (5/10)

Miles Davis is one of my most loved artists in the vast world of jazz music. Treading through more genres and styles that you could count on both hands over the course of his career, Davis was an innovator, although as is the case with far too many geniuses, he began to fall victim to his demons. 'Get Up With It' is a collection of tracks that Davis and company recorded over the early half of the '70s, and although it is considered by many fusion afficionados to be among Davis' finest works, it seems to me that the man's ravenous drug habit was beginning to lead to some miscalculations on his part.

The most noticeable element of 'Get Up With It' is its sheer length; clocking in at over two hours in length, it would be considered a gigantic album even by today's standards. Length can be used in an albums favour somewhat often, but only as long as the music stays consistently interesting. 'Get Up With It' features long-winded improvisations and focuses mostly on the noodling skills of the musicians, rather than an immediate sense of composition. This is not a complete loss for the music, seeing as these are some of the most notable people in jazz playing, but especially when the ideas are dragged out over ten or even fifteen minutes, the noodling can wear thin on my end.

'Get Up With It' can be lauded for being able to tie numerous styles together, including jazz, post-bop and funk. The sound here is somewhat familiar to what I heard on 'In A Silent Way', featuring plenty of mellow, yet passionate improvisations over backing grooves. What separates the excellent 'In A Silent Way' from this and brings that album to the next level however is a sense of buildup; the feeling that underneath the improvisations, the music was going something really special. 'Get Up With It' is a victim of its own long-winded nature.This does work in the album's favour at first, with 'He Loved Him Madly'; an intimately quiet and mellow ambient track that spans half an hour. While it is my favourite track here, I would likely go mad trying to focus on every moment of it, as its effect tends to be one of lulling the listener into sometimes even forgetting they are listening to music. It takes a certain type of human touch to accomplish that, but as one might expect, some more structure and dramatic tension in the music would have done wonders.

'Get Up With It' shows the musical talents of these artists in great swing, and Miles proves he can really lead a jazz band, despite the addiction that was eating away at him. Although Miles Davis is a genius like no other, it is clear that even with his more acclaimed works, it will not always mesh with me, despite the talent that is obvious here. An album in need of some serious editing, I can only moderately recommend this album.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#491785)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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