All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

6

Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
You thought not, but you can put the genie back in the bottle. What we're talking about is the specter unleashed by Miles Davis with Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). Davis' expanded lineup for BB with ten-plus musicians, including the electric pianos of Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, and Larry Young, Bennie Maupin playing bass clarinet, a young guitarist John McLaughlin, two bassists, percussion, and more percussion, and oh yeah, Wayne Shorter's saxophone was ever present. Charles Pillow did that with his Large Ensemble's Electric Miles.

Back in the day, Davis devotees were split on their opinions of his new direction. Some pined for his first great quintet (with John Coltrane), others were just digging into his second quintet (Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams), and most were trying to figure out what to make of his introduction of electric instruments with In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969). Certainly Bitches Brew, and Miles' exploration of jazz/rock with Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971) and On The Corner (Columbia, 1972) caused teeth gnashing for some post-bop heads, but he also created a new audience of folks who were checking out Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.

Looking back 50 years at Bitches Brew with the ease of today's digital access to almost every recording available at your fingertips, almost trivializes Davis' accomplishment. Where today's listeners have 110 years of jazz development, Davis had but half of that, plus consider that rock music was maybe 20 years old. This was revolutionary music. Arranger, saxophonist, and flutist Charles Pillow sums up Davis' first electric period (1969-72), not with long-form jams and Teo Macero studio splicing, but with orchestral arrangements. Davis' revolution accomplished its goals of shattering jazz into a million parts, while absorbing rock and Eastern music. Pillow escorts Davis' electric genie back into his bottle, making music in the same manner that Davis co-created with Gil Evans on Sketches Of Spain (Columbia, 1960) and Miles Ahead (Columbia, 1962). Pillow's arrangements smooth out the rougher edges, allowing soloists like Tim Hagans, who formed the tribute band Animation, and Clay Jenkins to deliver authentic echoes. Pillow dresses Electric Miles for a large ensemble while maintaining the ghostly presence of Davis. "Black Satin" swells with horn lines before nestling into the familiar On The Corner groove, with alumni Dave Liebman hoisting his saxophone. The music Pillow presents is a ripened, lets say matured version of Davis' sound. Fittingly enough in this 21st century, Zawinul's "In A Silent Way" is delivered in a regal manner as is Shorter's "Sanctuary." It is though, the lesser known "Directions" that burns the brightest on this recording with inspired solos by Hagans, trombonist Michael Davis and saxophonist Luke Norris. This recording makes you wonder what Pillow could do with Thelonious Monk's orchestral performance At Town Hall (Riverside, 1959). Hint hint.

Track Listing: Pharoah’s Dance; Bitches Brew; Black Satin; In A Silent Way; Directions; Sanctuary; Yesternow; Spanish Key.

Personnel: Charles Pillow, arranger, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, alto flute; Colin Gordon: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Luke Norris: tenor saxophone, clarinet: CJ Ziarniak: tenor saxophone; Karl Stabnau: bass clarinet; Michael Davis: trombone; Abe Nouri: trombone; Jack Courtright: trombone; Gabe Ramos: bass trombone; Tony Kadleck lead trumpet; Charlie Carr: trumpet; Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Julian Garvue: electric piano; Chuck Bergeron: electric bass; Mike Forfia: acoustic bass (trks . 4 & 6); Jared Schonig: drums; David Liebman: soprano saxophone (trks. 3 & 7).

Title: Electric Miles | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: MAMA Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Music of Richard Whiting CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Richard Whiting
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Barefoot Dances and Other Visions CD/LP/Track Review
Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor CD/LP/Track Review
Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker CD/LP/Track Review
Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966! CD/LP/Track Review
The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966!
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Double Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Double Bass
by John Eyles
Published: April 7, 2018
Read "While We Still Have Bodies" CD/LP/Track Review While We Still Have Bodies
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 14, 2018
Read "Partir" CD/LP/Track Review Partir
by John Kelman
Published: May 30, 2018
Read "Let Your Light Shine On" CD/LP/Track Review Let Your Light Shine On
by Chris May
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "The People Could Fly" CD/LP/Track Review The People Could Fly
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 8, 2018
Read "In Stride" CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018