MILES DAVIS — Filles de Kilimanjaro (review)

MILES DAVIS — Filles de Kilimanjaro album cover Album · 1969 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Abraxas
Who's that on the cover? The one and only Mademoiselle Mabry!

Filles de Kilimanjaro sets the definition of a 'transitional album'. From this album, there's an after and before. While Davis first introduced the Rhodes and an electric guitar one year before in Miles in the Sky to his music, the compositions on that were still pretty much standard jazz, and when I say 'standard' I mean your standard Davis post-bop with his famous Quintet consisting of Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, so it's top-notch 'standard' jazz.

In Filles there's a split, with the exclusion of Hancock and Carter for the first time in 4 years, in the first and last tune, replaced by future "lasting" members, Chick Corea and Dave Holland. However, these two tunes aren't so interesting taking in consideration the pieces where Hancock participates. The opener, 'Frelon Brun', is an energetic jazz track featuring solos from Miles, Wayne and Chick, though the highlight for me is Tony Williams' quite fierceful fills, not your average jazz drummer, that you should already know. 'Mademoiselle Mabry', on the other hand, is a very gentle tune being mainly an extension and expansion of Hendrix's 'The Wind Cries Mary', it's a nice mix of blues and jazz.

Now to the more interesting pieces, these are 'Tout de Suite' and the title track. While 'Tout de Suite' introduces itself like another tranquil and night-mood jazz tune with relaxing electric keyboards and soft drumming, its middle section, however, lasting over 8 minutes, is like a loose sort-of jam very similar to 'Shhh/Peaceful' from In a Silent Way with Hancock playing those same fast twists in the keys while Tony and Ron keep a steady rhythm.

The title track also expands further the jazz realms as it would later be known in Bitches Brew. It has a repetitive, though engaging rhythm done by Carter's bass and Williams's drums, and on top of that there's Wayne, Herbie and Miles sharing notes and dueling pacifically. A proto-typical Miles composition of his 'electric/fusion' period.

So yes, Filles de Killimanjaro and Miles in the Sky are the albums where Miles would build on top of in the next couple of years. Though not as chilling as 'In a Silent Way' or as rocking as 'A Tribute to Jack Johnson', both Filles and Miles in the Sky are excellent records of jazz delving into a primitive style of fusion.

4 stars: Highly recommended for fans of energetic and loosier jazz, and of course this is essential to understand how Miles' creativity and compositional skills progressed.
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