MILES DAVIS — Nefertiti (review)

MILES DAVIS — Nefertiti album cover Album · 1967 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
‘Nefertiti’ is Miles’ last jazz record before he starts slowly sliding toward the rock side of things and it makes for a grand farewll as he and his band are at the apex of their creativity and stretch the genre for about as far as it will go. The title tune opens the album and presents a bizarre repeating abstract melody without any solos as the band, especially Hancock and Williams, interject energetic harmonic and rhythmic variations as the tune continues to come around and around. In similar modern developments, ‘Fall’ doesn’t so much have a melody as more like somber horn colors that come and go as Hancock and Shorter occasionally solo while being backed by Williams’ stop-start rhythms and subtle meter changes. Surely on most of this album the old formula of playing a head tune followed by everyone taking a few rounds for a solo has been thrown out the window. Likewise Hancock and Williams continue to re-write what a rhythm section can and should do while someone is soloing, introducing more freedom and abstraction with each passing album the quintet records.

‘Hand Jive’ closes out side one with high speed aggressive almost free hard bop in a style similar to Ornette Coleman. ‘Madness’ opens side two with more free ranging hard bop until the middle of the tune where everyone drops out and Hancock launches into a solo that sounds more like modern composition than jazz. I get the feeling that Miles really enjoyed the sophistication that Herbie’s concert hall sensibilities brought to the band and encouraged him in that direction. Side two closes out with two more highly original takes on the post bop genre this band created with an aggressive piano solo on ‘Riot’ and finally another solo from Miles on ‘Pinocchio’.

After this record Miles slowly began to shift his band toward electronics and the psychedelic groove. Although Miles made a lot of great music in the worlds of fusion and rock, re-listening to this record I can see why so many fans felt such disappointment and even sadness when Miles decided to shift gears. Although in Miles’ mind it was time for a change, sometimes it does seem like a shame that all of this sophisticated abstract beauty and hip beatnik cool got replaced with loud amps, wah-wah pedals, extra wide flare jeans, high-heeled stacks, cocaine and thousands of admiring slack jawed hippies.
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