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Miles Davis - Miles Davis Quintet: Miles in the Sky CD (album) cover


Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars With its psych artwork as a warning and to be truthful, I always thought this album should've come past FDK as it is more prog than the previous, but I shall stop my revisionism there. Recorded entirely with Herbie Hancock and Ron Cater on electric instruments, Miles is also toying with wa-wah effects on his trumpets (something I find less evident with FDK), Tony Williams is starting to hit those drums in a rockier fashion and just four tracks to grave this album.

I never saw the vinyl of this album (never really looked for it either), but I wonder about the track listing on which side and their respective original lengths. I have a hard time believing that the 17-mins Stuff would fit with the 12-mins+ Paraphernalia (adding up to a whopping almost 30-mins), while the flipside would only amount to 21 minutes. It would seem more likely that the shorter 7-mins+Black Comedy skipped/exchanged with Paraphernalia. In either case, the Cd version doesn't seem to care, starting on the phenomenal Stuff, probably the closest Miles ever got to jazz-rock (some would say soul-jazz, but not me) with his 60's quintet, If Hancock is great on his electric piano, Tony Williams is pounding them skins like a rock drummer, Ron Carter is not yet on electric bass. However in the following track, George Benson guests on electric guitar (yessir, you read me fine and if you don't believe, it says so on the sleeve), but the track is closer to standard jazz than Stuff.

Another reason I think the Williams-penned Black Comedy should've been on the other side is that Williams pounds again the skin as hard as in Stuff, although we're again closer to "normal jazz", but there is an unusual amount of energy for that type of jazz (as there would be even more in Frelon Brun of the following FDK) and that's probably part of what scared most purists as well. Country Son is an interesting three part track, with one clearly rock (that means 4/4 in jazz terms) section, divided by two solo interludes from HH. It might appear a little improvised to the rest of the album... and it is!!! Great Williams drumming again. He's the unsung hero of this album.

I have seen recently that this album got a remaster reissue with two alternate take of existing tracks. It's up to you to see if the upgrade is worth it. Personally this album is my personal fave from the 60's quintet (should you only have one from that period, that's the one) and it is probably easiest to jump from MITS to IASW, than from FDK to see Miles' progression.

Report this review (#179607)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the first Miles Davis album to showcase anything resembling jazz-rock. This is the Second Great Quintet, augmented with George Benson on guitar for Paraphernalia. This album has such a great lineup with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter. Hancock is using electric piano for (from what i know) the first time, and Ron Carter using an electric jazz bass. Tony Williams, who was probably the catalyst for Miles going into the jazz-rock direction, utilizing rock beats during certain moments on this album. Aside from these revolutionary advances in Miles Davis' music, this is still great 60s jazz as only Miles Davis could deliver, just with the twists i just mentioned. The phrases and chord sequences are still jazz by the strictest sense, but hey, Miles had to start somewhere. And this is it. This is the (un)official start to Electric Miles, which never stopped until his death in 1991.

The music is amazing. This is the Second Great Quintet at their finest. Stuff, with its haunting melody and great use of electric piano, gives this song a real jazz-rock/fusion feel. And Paraphernalia, with Miles Davis' first use of electric guitar on any of his albums. George Benson, though i dont agree with the direction he took a few years after this album came out, was and still is one of the best jazz guitarists ever. His solo on Paraphernalia is sooooo good, you must hear it to know what I'm talking about.

It's a shame this album and Filles de Kilimanjaro are so underrated. Mostly because of the following 2 albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew for their controversial, innovative, and powerful music. So much that MITS and FdK have this giant shadow upon them. Needless to say, this album is essential for discovering the roots of jazz-rock and for any Miles Davis fan. I will however give this album 4 stars, because well, it is not a masterpiece.

As I said, this is still jazz. However, for those seeking the origins of jazz-rock, this is one album that dates way before the jazz-rock boom. Miles may not have been the first to fuse jazz with rock, but he wasn't far behind!

Report this review (#179644)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The flow of Quintet tried for Miles Davis reached a climax by "Nefertiti". It might not limit to Miles Davis and become one of the works that showed a very important position for the history of Jazz. However, Miles Davis might have groped for directionality to develop the flow and situation further. And, it was a rhythm of Rock taken as an expression of the directionality of the music that he tried and a contemporary part.

The part of Rock that started being established as a situation until reaching this album appeared remarkably exactly at the time of the latter half of the 60's. It will have been time of the revolution for the musician to whom the pursuit of music surrounded surroundings for Miles Davis. And, it is guessed that the music of Miles Davis since "Nefertiti" did dismantlement and restructuring at a very fast speed. And, the form of Quintet that existed as an expression gradually till then was revolutionized.

Each member that half a year passes from the announcement of "Nefertiti" acts for the following creation. To perform E-Piano to Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis demanded. The performance would be a complete revolution and be a challenge for Herbie Hancock. And, guitar player's Joe Beck also existed as a companion of the session at this time. And, guitar player's George Benson participated in the session that had been done in January, 1968.

The directionality at this time is guessed that there were some revolutions and groping for Mils Davis that did the attempt to develop the directionality of the music developed by "Nefertiti". Flow of introduction of sound of guitar by Joe Beck and George Benson. Established of the guitar player was not done to the appearance of John McLaughlin as a result. However, it tries to have tried to introduce the sound of the guitar as a change in the music character of the combo. Or, it changes in the music character to consider the part of Groove surely. They will be able to draw the flow of proceeded combo to the next step.

Competing with Gil Evans that had been done in February, 1968 will have been a flow of one revolution for Miles Davis. And, the concert is dared in Gil Evans and Los Angeles in April, 1968. The sound source of the recording done at this time is connected with the content of this album.

It is guessed that breaking down the situation and the liberalization of the rhythm exist as a nucleus when thinking as a flow of the situation. Uniting the mode and the age to establish by "Nefertiti" gives a more chaotic impression. However, the expression that each member catches while groping for directionality method might be good at the wavelength of Miles Davis each other. And, it is guessed that the part of the edit done to raise the perfection of the album had been done since this time.

"Stuff" continues atmosphere with good part of the wind instrument in close relation to the melody of E-Piano that produces the anacatesthesia. The rhythm in close relation to the part of the intermitted theme increases degree of freedom. There might be a flow distributed while developing the element of "Nefertiti" further as a concept. The expression of the performance to establish especially eight rhythms and the performance at this time is being established.

The melody of a glossy wind instrument legato of fast cymbals gets on "Paraphernalia". The progress of piano Chord is complete. And, the part where syncopation intermittently repeated was multiused decides the impression of this tune. Melody of trumpet with consistently good flow. The performance gradually gives the speed and freedom also in the part of solo of Sax. Solo of George Benson might also have originality.

As for "Black Comedy", the taste that this Quintet did has been made the best use of enough. Each member's performance in close relation to the rhythm that moves freely might be high-quality. Development and a dash feeling advanced as a comfortable tension is continued are splendid. The idea tried in the part and the past when the revolution is tried might be united.

As for "Country Son", a certain kind of order exists together in the performance that diffuses completely. The flow of Quintet is remarkably expressed. The development of the melody and the rhythm that puts fast and slow might be splendid. A chaotic introduction of Solo in close relation to the impression and the processing of the space might succeed.

The revolution and groping done at this time are exactly expressed by the work. It might be an album that exists as a work that catches the delicate time in detail.

Report this review (#265675)
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars For whatever reasons escape me, I can't get into the groove of MILES IN THE SKY. This album represents the precursor of Miles Davis experimenting with more rock styles to spice up his own jazz style, so MILES IN THE SKY can be retconned as a transitional album of sorts. ''Stuff'' is the track that best represents the future of Davis's body of work (particularly to fans of IN A SILENT WAY), as this cut sounds more psychedelic that the other works on the album, plus the presence of an electric piano helps progress the sound. I would point ''Stuff'' out as the best track as it handles the ''service-to-the-song'' method more so than anything else on the album.

The rest of the album is locked into more traditional jazz territory, complete with walking bass lines, fast, swinging tempos (that swing is best on ''Black Comedy''), irregular chords and fastbreak horn soloing. From a technical perspective, these tracks are impressive, and I'll highlight the start-stop feel of ''Paraphernalia'' and Tony Williams's drumming overall as memorable. Yet, the last three tracks sound a bit cold. Some of the best jazz I've heard had a warmth to it that (excuse the hyperbole) could melt your soul. Albums from a decade prior to this like KIND OF BLUE or TIME OUT could nail that emotional sweet spot to the point of mesmerization. MILES IN THE SKY often makes me nod my head in indifference. Coming from Miles Davis, a man whom I respect for making jazz inviting and fun, this album is a head-scratcher.

Report this review (#982115)
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Listening to Jazz music is such a surreal experience. The atmosphere is often full of intensity, and what I mean by "intense", I'm not necessarily referring to the sound of the music but the artist that is creating it. The compositions are often improvised, and the musicians seem to disappear into a different realm. And within this realm, the only thing that exists is the musician and their instrument. They develop a synergy with their instrument, it becomes a part of them. Another form of communication. The instrument becomes a window into their soul, their mind, and their creativity. And the sounds that are released are like another form of expression, the kind of sensations that no arrangement of words could ever describe. Miles Davis knows this experience all too well.

The 1960's was certainly an interesting era in time. There was this urge for experimentation that just captivated everyone. Segregation had just come to an end as white individuals and minorities were beginning to experiment with coalescent communities. Hedonism was also growing in trend, as the usage of drugs and sexual promiscuity was beginning to be seen in a less condemning light. Obviously, this would grow to have a tremendous effect on music. Music began to become much more abstract. Musicians began seeing music as much more than just something to listen to, but something to get lost in. Artists begun to push music into different directions, becoming much more experimental. The late 60's was a transitional period in Miles Davis' career, as he too fell into this urge for something different. Miles In The Sky is now seen as the stepping stone into a new era for Miles Davis. Miles In The Sky introduces a growing interest in the usage of electric instruments, such as the keyboard, bass, and guitar. This album is often seen as the first from his "Electric" period. The compositions of the album come from different sessions, and we can truly see the stages of Miles Davis' evolution from acoustic Jazz to Fusion music. Again, this album was just the first step, and the electric touches are not as prominent as in the latter albums.

We begin with "Stuff". Already we can hear the usage of an electric bass and a Rhodes piano within the composition. The piano arrangements are fast paced, yet the drumming and wind instruments show a little more restrain, though often erupting into a more passionate delivery in variation. Overall, this is still the Bop-styled Miles we have heard before. "Black Comedy" and "Country Son" represent the acoustic section of the album, and are some of Miles' final orchestrations using an acoustic quintet format. "Black Comedy" is very lively and aggressive in nature, while "Country Son" displays a more atmospheric tone. But now let us move on to the perhaps most well-known composition from the album, "Paraphernalia". The composition displays one of the first electrical guitar arrangements in Miles' music. "Paraphernalia" turns bop inside-out, with intense eruption of solos appearing and vanishing in a modal or free space, and interludes of quick changes on every beat, not as accompaniment for solos, but just stated on its own.

There is such intense musicianship within Miles In The Sky. Of course, Miles is the star of the show, but I must mention the drumming of Tony Williams. He was merely a teenager when he first joined Miles Davis' Second Great Quartet, but his dexterity for the instrument is astonishing. He was 23 during the recording for this album, and his feel for the drums is such a mind-blowing performance. Despite its abstract cover art and its name, "Miles In The Sky", this album doesn't contain the psychedelic atmospheres that are found in Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way. In fact, this album is often overlooked and it's a shame because this is perhaps one of Miles' most historic releases. Not only because it marked the beginning of Miles' "Electric era", but this was one of the defining albums for Jazz Fusion. This was a release that would not only grow to influence the Jazz world, but even transcend to inspire several rock artists. This is an album that must be heard by Jazz fans, especially any admirer of Miles Davis.

Report this review (#2165467)
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019 | Review Permalink

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