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Miles Davis: The Complete Concert 1964 / Fred Lonberg-Holm: Other Valentines

Florence Wetzel By

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Miles Davis
The Complete Concert 1964
Sony
2005

On February 12th, 1964, Miles Davis played a benefit concert at Lincoln Center to help register black voters in Louisiana and Mississippi. Davis and his luminous sidemen—George Coleman on tenor sax, Ron Carter on bass, Herbie Hancock on piano and eighteen-year-old Tony Williams on drums—launched into eleven standards and, according to Davis, "We just blew the top off that place that night. It was a motherfucker the way everybody played." The concert was released as two albums, My Funny Valentine and "Four" and More, which have finally been joined to form an essential two-CD set—The Complete Concert 1964.

The CDs are comprised of tunes from Davis' repertoire, songs he had been inhabiting and exploring for many years, including his classics "All Blues," "So What" and "Four." There's also "Stella by Starlight," "Walkin,'" "Seven Steps to Heaven," "All of You," "I Thought About You," "Joshua," "There is No Greater Love" and of course the title track, a Davis favorite. The music is uniformly sublime; at this point in his career Davis was already a master, plus he's clearly invigorated by his sidemen's energy. Even after 42 years the songs are completely fresh and unpredictable, with the archetypal sound of Davis' lonely trumpet weaving its way throughout.

The combination of first-rate musicians, the urgency of the Civil Rights movement, plus a backstage dispute about Davis' decision to waive the band's fee combusted into a night of intense, achingly beautiful music. Davis was soon to make another mercurial shift, making this concert all the more special for documenting the fruition of one of jazz's most important small groups.

Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio
Other Valentines
Atavistic
2005

Speaking of Valentines, Fred Lonberg-Holm's trio album Other Valentines is a rich feast of music, an eclectic mix of songs including compositions by Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron, Wilco and Cat Power. The members of the trio—Lonberg-Holm on cello, Jason Roebke on bass and Frank Rosaly on drums—play with style and verve, their graceful energy opening up the songs in unexpected ways.

The cello is a rich instrument, blessed with a deep-bodied, sonorous voice as well as a capacity for flight. Lonberg-Holm has a wonderful feel for the instrument, bringing its natural poignancy to bloom while also working its playful side. On Sun Ra's "East of Uz" Lonberg-Holm has a light, swinging touch reminiscent of Stephane Grappelli and he also dives into some delightfully fractured improv. Another gem is "Fool," where Lonberg-Holm digs into the bluesy, self-mocking melody line. Lonberg-Holm is also a gifted composer and the recording features three tunes by him, including "Almost Mid-day," a heartbreaking meditation featuring his open-hearted cello.

Part of the disc's success certainly lies with Roebke and Rosaly. Roebke's strings weave seamlessly into Lonberg-Holm's, grounding the songs in a deep groove. Rosaly does a terrific job as well, with his cymbal work in particular adding dimension to the music. Altogether Other Valentines is a memorable CD, with rich layers that merit repeated listening.


Tracks and Personnel

The Complete Concert 1964

Tracks: CD1: Introduction by Mort Fega; My Funny Valentine; All of You; Go-Go (Theme and Re-Introduction); Stella by Starlight; All Blues; I Thought About You. CD2: So What; Walkin'; Joshua; Go-Go (Theme and Announcement); Four; Seven Steps to Heaven; There is No Greater Love; Go-Go (Theme and Announcement).

Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet; George Coleman: tenor sax; Ron Carter: bass; Herbie Hancock: piano; Tony Williams: drums.

Other Valentines

Tracks: East of Uz; Fool; Arnold Layne; Almost Mid-day; Vals Pa Vingar; Flo; Winter in America; Jesus etc.; I Got Nothing; To My Buddy, Buddy.

Personnel: Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Jason Roebke: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.


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