MILES DAVIS — Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles

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MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles cover
4.48 | 48 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1967

Filed under Post Bop


A1 Orbits 4:35
A2 Circle 5:52
A3 Footprints 9:44
B1 Dolores 6:20
B2 Freedom Jazz Dance 7:11
B3 Ginger Bread Boy 7:40

Total Time 40:35


- Miles Davis / trumpet
- Wayne Shorter / tenor sax
- Herbie Hancock / piano
- Ron Carter / bass
- Tony Williams / drums

About this release

Columbia – CL 2601 (US)

Recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City, on October 24 and October 25, 1966

Thanks to kazuhiro for the addition and snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
Miles Smiles is regarded as one of his best Jazz albums and for good reason. This was his 2nd album with the Quintet comprising of Wayne Shorter on Tenor Saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on Bass and Tony Williams on drums. Recorded in October 1966 over 2 sessions with every track on this album performed beautifully with what seems like seamless interchange with the solos between Miles and Wayne Shorter without mentioning the playing of Herbie Hancock. The rythmn section comprisng of Ron Carter and Tony Williams to me are the major reason this album is so perfect. When speaking about this album everybody comments on the playing of Miles and Wayne but if not for the solid driving bass provided by Ron Carter where would this album be. His timing is fantastic and what a motor for any band not to mention the drumming of Tony Williams who provided the wheels for this album. Proceedings commence with Orbits where Miles and Wayne start the tune together and then Miles takes off, Wayne and Herbie follow respectively with superb solos and then the tune again with Miles and Wayne. Track 2 Circles is a ballad with Miles on muted horn and the solos run in the same arder as Orbits. The following tracks throughout are excellent with Footprints followed by the driving Dolores. The tune Freedom Jazz Dance is is Tony Williams really showing his talent as the young red hot Jazz drummer that he was. The album finishes off with one of my favourite tunes performed by this Quintet and that is Ginger Bread Boy. Great driving solos with that loopy intro to the number and the drumming of Tony Williams, Carters bass providing a constant throb throughout with the solos getting more frenzied as they progress. Fantastic and what a number with Miles making a comment to Teo Macero and the very end.

This is one of his great albums for me and a Tour de Force as they say in France. Pure Jazz

Members reviews

Miles smiles and he's not pretending a part. He's really happy for his new family of musicians, so happy that he himself really can't believe this miracle of combo exists on earth and he's the creator of such a beauty. He needed his Golden Quintet, the highest expression of all times (neo) classic jazz, something living its (smiling) summer but with all the dangerous nostalgia of a perfectly mature fruit. So much that perfection that it was like a bridge to the unknown. Pure angst, at the end. Two were the alternatives to follow: the taste of decadence or a cut with the past. This gifted combo, touched by the hand of history, is sqeezed by Miles like a lemon; after, throught the naked "In a silent way", Miles and friends (those with him in that moment, because that was his - and their - own cruel and marvellous fate) will find themselves on the rich but deserted shores of "Bitches Brew", the occasion for many in the world to listen to Davis for the first time. But connoisseurs all around knew very well this perfect microgroove where everybody was smiling, according to Anthony Tuttle liner notes: "The entire quintet plays as if there were a shared smile between them, each man lending his efforts to the whole while the whole reflects the solid contribution of each man". A perfect definition good for every album of Miles magic quintet, starting from "ESP", first studio brick in a solid house. A castle. The building of dreams. "Seven steps..." is still tradition with some changes added but not a convinced piece of the new direction. Miles was waiting for Wayne, the Coltrane he always wanted. And from that lp to "ESP" we have only live albums. We have to wait until 1965, year of "ESP", to taste new flavours: but soon, 1966, everybody smiles with the leader. "Miles smiles" and we believe his smiling to be true. He's even surprised that his meditations or even impulses can find easy incarnation in music. He's really the genius he thinks to be. Everything's so smooth, in those years, that seems incredible, to him, to us, the amount of work, sometimes obscure, difficult work, waiting for Miles just around the corner. Smiling Miles soon will be a very far souvenir if compared to the ground zero of "In a silent way" or the path to hell of "Bitches brew": both streets with no return.
Continuing his experiments in modal jazz as an alternative to the disparate free playing which was the other major strand in cutting-edge jazz experimentation, Miles Smiles might not be the most immediately arresting Davis album, but it's both entertaining and an intriguing look at the final stages of his all-acoustic sound. It would only be a couple of years before electric instruments began working their way into Miles' sound, provoking his fusion phase, but despite retaining traditional instrumentation Davis creates a complex and intriguing work which rewards repeated, careful listens. Not on the top tier of his work, but an important foundation for what followed.

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