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Miles Davis - Miles Davis And Milt Jackson  [Aka: Quintet/Sextet] CD (album) cover


Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars Quintet/Sextet something of an outlier in the Miles discography, with an ensemble that never came together again. It features angular head lines that flirt with the underlying tonalities and some fertile ground for soloing. Despite promising material, the band just didn't have the chemistry or time to gel into a truly special unit. Jackie McLean seems either aloof or rejected due to only bringing his sax to two songs he wrote. On the three up-tempo numbers, Milt Jackson plays in a frankly robotic mode that has plenty of flash but little soul. Luckily we get to see him open up a little in the final ballad. Miles himself is noteworthy in his ability to find the perfect tone in every instance.

The album opens with a blues number called "Dr. Jackie." After the spiky head, fueled by Art Taylor's kick drum accents, Milt Jackson gets the first solo of the album. He's all about clockwork precision. Miles' solo is contrastingly cool and laid back, playful, teasing, then settling into unusual harmonic postures, just outside. When McLean enters, he's immediately more florid and dynamic than the two previous soloists but somehow disengaged. The underrated Ray Bryant is rhythmic and upbeat, bringing things back to the territory Jackson explored on his opening solo. Appropriately, Jackson shows up for a final solo before the head closes the piece.

"Bitty Ditty"'s head features Davis and Jackson in unison on an audience-friendly tune. The solo chord sequence is colorful and challenging. Davis doesn't always negotiate the turns smoothly in his opening solo. Bryant is more commanding as he works the harmonic landscape. Jackson once again keeps things rhythmically tidy. Davis' second solo is more cogent than the first.

McLean sits out on "Bitty Ditty" and the later "Changes." Davis has claimed that McLean was completely wasted on these sessions. It's hard to imagine how he could get it together for completely acceptable performances, but it's easy to imagine he's not... quite... all there.

Mclean's tune "Minor March brings" the tempo up with a winding head that features a mini-solo by Jackson. McLean gets the first real solo and somehow keeps things smoky despite the fast pace. Jackson does what Jackson does, machine-gunning with the pulse. Davis sees his chance to ease things up, then slowly increases the energy and delightfully plays off of bassist Heath. Bryant's solo is facile and baroque.

"Changes" is a loungy love ballad. A sentimental piano intro brings in the rhythm section and a Jackson solo. Here he finally has a texture that encourages him to breathe and throw away the metronome. A sweet song that floats away like a wisp.

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Posted Friday, April 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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