MILES DAVIS — Miles in the Sky

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MILES DAVIS - Miles in the Sky cover
4.19 | 31 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1968

Filed under Post Bop


A1 Stuff
A2 Paraphernalia
B1 Black Comedy
B2 Country Son

Total Time: 51:04


Miles Davis — trumpet
Wayne Shorter — tenor saxophone
Herbie Hancock — piano, electric piano on "Stuff"
George Benson — electric guitar on "Paraphernalia"
Ron Carter — bass, electric bass on "Stuff"
Tony Williams — drums

About this release

Columbia ‎– CS 9628 (US)

Rec. January 16, 1968; May 15-16-17, 1968

Thanks to snobb, Abraxas for the updates


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Sean Trane
With its psych artwork as a warning and to be truthful, I always thought this album should've come past FDK as it is more prog than the previous, but I shall stop my revisionism there. Recorded entirely with Herbie Hancock and Ron Cater on electric instruments, Miles is also toying with wa-wah effects on his trumpets (something I find less evident with FDK), Tony Williams is starting to hit those drums in a rockier fashion and just four tracks to grave this album. I never saw the vinyl of this album (never really looked for it either), but I wonder about the track listing on which side and their respective original lengths. I have a hard time believing that the 17-mins Stuff would fit with the 12-mins+ Paraphernalia (adding up to a whopping almost 30-mins), while the flipside would only amount to 21 minutes. It would seem more likely that the shorter 7-mins+Black Comedy skipped/exchanged with Paraphernalia. In either case, the Cd version doesn't seem to care, starting on the phenomenal Stuff, probably the closest Miles ever got to jazz-rock (some would say soul-jazz, but not me) with his 60's quintet, If Hancock is great on his electric piano, Tony Williams is pounding them skins like a rock drummer, Ron Carter is not yet on electric bass. However in the following track, George Benson guests on electric guitar (yessir, you read me fine and if you don't believe, it says so on the sleeve), but the track is closer to standard jazz than Stuff.

Another reason I think the Williams-penned Black Comedy should've been on the other side is that Williams pounds again the skin as hard as in Stuff, although we're again closer to "normal jazz", but there is an unusual amount of energy for that type of jazz (as there would be even more in Frelon Brun of the following FDK) and that's probably part of what scared most purists as well. Country Son is an interesting three part track, with one clearly rock (that means 4/4 in jazz terms) section, divided by two solo interludes from HH. It might appear a little improvised to the rest of the album... and it is!!! Great Williams drumming again. He's the unsung hero of this album.

I have seen recently that this album got a remaster reissue with two alternate take of existing tracks. It's up to you to see if the upgrade is worth it. Personally this album is my personal fave from the 60's quintet (should you only have one from that period, that's the one) and it is probably easiest to jump from MITS to IASW, than from FDK to see Miles' progression.

Miles Davis wrote his own history. This fifth album by the Second Great Quintet is among Miles' best albums, yet sometimes forgotten. It is here we hear the first signs of jazz-rock he would later revolutionize. Electric pianos appear thanks to Herbie Hancock and a rare appearance of Ron Carter on electric bass, something he did not usually prefer to play. The quintet is augmented by guitarist George Benson on "Paraphernalia", further showing Miles' interest in rock music.

Now by no means is this a jazz-ROCK album, it is still very much the experimental post-bop this group had been playing, but electrified, with a little R&B mixed in.

The opening "Stuff" doesn't beat around the bush and gets right into action with classic Herbie e-piano playing, but I find Miles' playing on this song one of his best performances, his horn is full of power and I slightly attribute it to the fresh environment of electric instruments and 'rockish' beats; in which Tony Williams is not just adding rock beats to the mix, but is fusing rock rhythms with jazz sensibilities.

Adding George Benson to the mix is very cool, since this would have been the ultimate lineup if Benson stayed with the group, but he is just here as a guest. However his playing on "Paraphernalia" is classic. I was actually aware of Benson's music before I heard this album, so when I heard this song, I was amazed at how he blended in with the music.

At this point, Herbie is back to piano, and Carter on acoustic bass; and this lasts for the rest of the album. The music here is much more like the previous post-bop Miles albums, but again, with the guitar added. Miles is, again, on fire here and Williams drums like a mad man. Wayne Shorter on sax is particularly good on this song. I sometimes forget how good he is on this album, what with everything else going on with the electrified instruments, one of Miles' best performances, and George Benson being present; who's presence is a very fresh.

This album is groundbreaking, though not revolutionary. It is a big step in the eventual creation of what would eventually be called, Jazz-Rock/Fusion, and is not to be missed for the jazz-fusion fan; one that is interested in the genre's history. For those who aren't big fans of fusion, have no fear. If you enjoy the 60s Miles Davis albums and can handle the sound of the electric piano and electric bass, you should thoroughly enjoy this album. I would say a non-fusion fan would get into this easier than a jazz-rock/fusion fan, as this album is still 100% jazz, well maybe 98% ;)

This is the last album with this lineup intact. They would appear on the next album Filles de Kilimanjaro, but only on half the album. This is also Miles Davis' last full jazz album despite the appearance of electric instruments on "Stuff". This album is a big turning point in Miles' music, and music in general. A very underrated album.

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