357

Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson Like the motions of a boxer, Miles Davis' music for this tribute contains much repetition in the motion and rhythm of his sextet. His open trumpet drove the point home with force.

Electric guitar and electric bass were new to Davis' music in 1970. Ironically, he was honoring a traditional fighter who loved traditional jazz by rolling out his new sound with futuristic overtones. His echoing muted trumpet eventually became a Davis trademark. The perky soprano saxophone in his new band opened doors for a new wave in jazz that continues today to forge ahead in its popularity. The electronics of guitar, bass and organ created a powerfully emotional sound for jazz; however, it was quite new and difficult to accept. Many were turned off by the new wave of fusion. Thus, the jazz world split.

The professional boxing world underwent a more gradual change. Champions such as Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes garnered a deep sense of admiration from the public. They inspired us in our daily lives. Like Davis, they were in the public eye and were scrutinized for all their actions. More recent champions, however, have changed all that. Like jazz, the professional boxing world has split. Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson made headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. Recent heavyweight champions such as Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones, Jr., Chris Byrd and Vitali Klitschko have not inspired us as the legendary boxers did.

So, Davis' tribute to Jack Johnson was justified. He created the impression of Johnson's courage through his music. For nearly an hour, the music drones on in a rhythmic cycle that emulates the training and tactics of a boxer. Dreamier sequences reveal the obstacles that Johnson had to overcome. Racial prejudice and bigotry have always impeded progress. Johnson knew that. Davis knew that. In 1970, the world was just then learning how to repair the wounds. We're not there yet, but the music lives on to help in our search. A new PBS documentary by Ken Burns helps to keep us aware. We've got to open our eyes and our ears. As Davis says in the album's liner notes, "Johnson portrayed Freedom—it rang just as loud as the bell proclaiming him Champion."

Track Listing: Right Off; Yesternow

Personnel: Miles Davis- trumpet; Steve Grossman- soprano saxophone; Herbie Hancock- organ; John McLaughlin- electric guitar; Michael Henderson- electric bass; Billy Cobham- drums

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sony BMG Legacy | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "From Two Balconies" CD/LP/Track Review From Two Balconies
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Ripple" CD/LP/Track Review Ripple
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Overseas V" CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 30, 2017
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!