Review

MILES DAVIS Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles

Album · 1966 · Post Bop
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5/5 ·
js
This is it, the other modern jazz. While Coltrane, Ornette and Ayler were attracting a lot of attention with their talk of 'freedom' while attempting to bring down Jericho with their horns, Miles and his crew charted a more disciplined course and ended up with a style that was more of an influence than the freedom gang in the long run. Miles makes it clear from the first notes on this album that he's not taking any shorts. ‘Orbits’ kicks things off with a brief abstract melody before Miles heads straight for the solo with a full aggressive brassy attack. If there is a standard repeating harmonic chord structure to this tune, it is really hard to tell. The soloists teeter on the edge of outside atonality, and then reel it in with the occasional hard bop riff.

‘Circle’ finds the band in a mellow mood and it is the only ballad on the whole album. Miles has the mute on for this one and Herbie’s playing is lush and classical in that way that he always is on the quintet’s slower numbers. ‘Footprints’ follows with an abstract post bop rhythm and simple bluesy harmonic changes that give the soloists any easy modal drone to go off on. This one leaves a lot of room for Tony Williams revolutionary approach to rhythmic subdivisions while he interacts with Herbie’s busy comping that borders on polyphony with the soloist. This whole band was incredibly talented, but it was Tony and Herbie that really pushed them to the abstract extremes and a whole new language in jazz.

Side two picks up where the album opener left off with three more high energy semi-free post bop numbers that seem to carry some cross-influence with Ornette’s semi-bluesy approach to the new freedom in jazz. This is a great album, Miles plays hard throughout like he means business and the rest of the band members follow with rhythmic and harmonic inventions that would become the hallmark of the post bop sound for generations to come.
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Matt wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Wonderful album but not enough stars John. We should have a meter blowing rating for this one

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