One wouldn't imagine a protest album coming from a member of the former government of Afghanistan, which wasn't all that friendly to protesters in the first place. But now that the Taliban is negotiating with the new administration, Abdul Malik has something to say.
Days of Wine and Roses is the debut album from Malik's Taliban Remix Project, and it's devoted to the music of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. Malik thinks new technology can offer a twist or two on the music of two founding fathers of American jazz. He's decided to make his point by adding programmed beats, chants, bamboo flutes, and occasional goat sounds to some of the masters' greatest solos.
"Miles Davis and Charlie Parker were high during every one of these performances," the liner notes claim, "and just think how great they would have sounded if they had been sober." Since the downfall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is about to see the largest opium crop in world history, and Malik blames George Bush for using this as an excuse for yet another, even more brutal war on drugs. So he went into the studio and twisted knobs for three months.
The result, using samples from classic Prestige and Savoy titles, is quite inspired. "Half Nelson" brings Miles and Bird together in a twisting give and take that goes on for thirty seconds before Malik takes over Parker's part and delivers an identical, note-for-note copy on the bamboo flute. Drums crash in from every side and the tune becomes a frenzied apocalypse of unheralded proportion.
"Billie's Bounce," "Cherokee," and "Donna Lee" appear as a medley halfway through the album, oddly slowed down, reharmonized, and accompanied in waltz time by triangle and tambourine. But not all these tunes receive this sort of radical reinvention. "Ornithology" is surprisingly authentic, down to the last note, and it features the least electronic manipulation of any number on the set.
This isn't the first time the great masters have been remixed, and it won't be the last, in sha'Allah. But quite possibly it's the first time an artist has made an entire remix album without lighting a single joint. Judge the results for yourself.
Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet; Charlie Parker: alto saxophone; Abdul Malik: bamboo flutes, triangle, tambourine,
drums, vocals, programming, and effects.