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Miles Davis - Milestones CD (album) cover

MILESTONES

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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3 stars Miles from prog, or...?

A Beginners Guide to Proto-Prog, pt. 1:

In February-March 1958 at a time that Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis were topping the single charts on both sides of the Atlantic with Great Balls Of Fire and Jailhouse Rock, respectively, Miles Davis went into Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City under the supervision of producer George Avakian (who signed and produced Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong and became manager of Keith Jarrett) and engineer Harold Chapman (who worked with Ray Charles, Art Blakey and Tony Bennett) to record the album Milestones.

Also on both sides of the Atlantic, 1958 was dominated by soundtracks (South Pacific) and musicals (My Fair Lady, The Music Man) only championed by Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra on the Billboard 200 year end album chart and The Everly Brothers (All I Have To Do Is Dream), Elvis (Don't), Nat King Cole and Johnny Cash on the other Billboard charts. In fact, Miles followed the trend and soon after Milestones returned to record music for the musical Porgy And Bess.

The recording of Milestones took place only 7 months after The Quarry Men (pre-Beatles) were accidentially captured on tape on 6 July 1957 at St. Peter's Church Garden Fete playing Lonnie Donegan and Elvis on what would become the most expensive recording ever sold at auction. It was the same day and location that Lennon was introduced to McCartney. The two, with Harrison, would record their first unofficial single (evidenced on Beatles Anthology 1) a few months after the Milestones recording.

Anyway, Milestones was selected by ProgArchives members as one of the earliest inspirations to proto- prog. Earlier inspirations selected include Leadbelly (Goodnight, Irene, 1932), Woody Guthrie (This Land Is Our Land, 1944), Raymond Scott (1940?s), Les Baxter (Out Of The Moon, 1947), Ahmet Ertegun's Mess Around (1953) and Louis And Bebe Barron (Forbidden Planet, 1956).

So what does Milestones offer proto-prog? Well, attention to detail/virtuosity of the individual players (the album is all instrumental); focus on one instrument (here, Davis' trumpet) similar to the focus on the keyboards in some of the earliest proto-prog; Jazz influenced drummers; long tracks (here, two tracks exceed 10 minutes); Davis teaches a progressive approach to the instrument by allowing himself more freedom to add texture and density. And of course, jazz is explicitly apparent in early proto-prog artists, most notably perhaps Soft Machine. John Coltrane who contributes alto sax on Milestones is often linked to proto-prog for his 1964 and 1965 offerings as a solo artist, Crescent and A Love Supreme, respectively

Apart from the one novelty and highlight of the album, Miles?s own title track that introduced modalism into jazz, Milestones offers bop-based jazz that takes you on a fast ride through the stressful streets of New York at night without stopping at the red lights chasing Sid and Billy Boy. But with Davis behind the steering wheel you can rest assure that you will arrive safely.

Davis later went on to make a major impact on prog rock by developing Jazz rock (a prog subgenre on PA) and enjoy much the same demand as rock groups as evidenced by concerts at e.g. Fillmore West (one concert in 1971, same year as Grateful Dead and It's A Beautiful Day), Fillmore East (three concerts in 1970, same year as Traffic, Derek & The Dominos, Grateful Dead) and Tanglewood (1970, same year as Santana), venues that attracted many followers of prog.

With only two original compositions by Davis the rest being covers (which I generally find lack the intensity of the originals, although here I don't know them) and with jazz not complying with my overall taste (I only own two handfuls of jazz CD's) Milestones is credited with 3 stars.

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Send comments to earlyprog (BETA) | Report this review (#216827)
Posted Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Released in 1958 and recorded in 2 sessions on Feb 4th and March 4th. This is one of his top albums and was a favourite of Dizzy Gillespie who was Mile's major influence throughout his early career. It was Diz who told Miles to stick with his tone and encouraged him to go his own way.

The band is stunning containing John Coltrane.Cannonball Adderley,Paul Chambers,Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones. Philly Joe Jones and Red Garland were both hard musicians with their sound and that is why they were not used for Kind of Blue in the rythmn section. Red was often referred to sounding like a cocktail bar pianist and Philly Joe Jones was a machine gun with his drumming but as usual Miles choice of muscians for his band was perfect.

The album starts off with Dr Jackle and Miles comes in with the first solo but it is the next track Sids Ahead and with that intro and the rythmn maintained by Paul Chambers throughout. Miles comes in 2nd here with that gorgeous low tone that he had. Billy Boy is the rythmn section only and really displays Red Garland's style on piano,great stuff. The most popular and well known track on the album apart from the Monk tune Straight No Chaser is Miles ( Milestones) I have always known the title of the track as simply just Miles but seems to called the full album title these days. Anyway you do not need to describe this as you need to hear it yourself simply beautiful and is often requested by family members to play this one first. There is not a poor track and this would be one of the best Hard Bop albums you could wish to own.

Absolutely essential if you like Jazz and 5 stars as this is a masterpiece in music.

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Send comments to Matthew T (BETA) | Report this review (#234923)
Posted Monday, August 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A harder-edged, faster and more forceful album than Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, or other albums which are more usually recommended at starting points for exploring Miles Davis' expansive discography, Milestones finds Miles and his band on fine form. With talents like John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and others in the sessions, there's plenty of brilliant soloing to enjoy - Red Garland on piano in particular has some outstanding moments in the spotlight - and whilst the performances occasionally zoom over the ten minute mark, they never feel as though they have outstayed their welcome. On the whole, it's a fast-paced and energetic album which is a good example of this particular side of Miles' sound.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#755625)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permalink

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