MILES DAVIS — Sketches of Spain (review)

MILES DAVIS — Sketches of Spain album cover Album · 1960 · Third Stream Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Hands down Gil Evans and Miles Davis' best collaboration.

'Sketches of Spain' is a moving collaboration of Spanish classical and folk songs. Supported by around 19 players, (two of which were Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums) this is a ensemble album where in the opener, Miles' trumpet takes the place of Rodrigo's classical guitar. And masterfully. Subtle, restrained and mournful, this rivals 'Kind of Blue' for sheer emotion, and is perhaps more evocative. When you hear this album, you see Spain.

I do feel this is more of a classical record rather than a strictly jazz one, but then, it's both. The adagio of 'Concierto de Aranjuez' is beautiful and Gil Evans arranges it with a mixture of subtlety (low in the mix are maracas or castanets) and grandeur, when the orchestra swells to crescendo, Mile's trumpet riding it out.

Among the the remaining tracks, 'Will O the Wisp' is a piece that musically embodies a playful, curious nature, with Miles again soaring over the backing with a distinctive and fitting whine to his playing.

'The Pan Piper' begins Side Two in similar fashion before things take a military turn with a solemn drum march, during an interpretation of traditional Spanish religious music in 'Saeta'. Bringing the album to a close in a mood sympathetic to Saeta is 'Solea' which will be familiar to lovers of flamenco music. It builds and releases tension in a cycle, with restrained but effective soloing from Miles once again. Four stars for me.

Highly recommended if you are looking for something more cinematic in your jazz. For Davis fans, worth it for the adagio alone.
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