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Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall

Alain Londes By

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Miles Electric Band
Koerner Hall
Toronto, Ontario
October 14, 2017

What started off as a successful "Miles Davis Festival" at the initiative of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in 2011 and led by Vince Wilburn Jr. and nephew of the great Miles Davis himself, would eventually lead to the Miles Electric Band celebrating the music of Davis' electric period. The band represents stellar musicians with impressive and extensive musical credentials who are either alumni of the great one's band or close disciples who have embellished in that genre.

The highly anticipated show delivered in recreating that vibe that we mainly hear on significant historical recordings. After seeing a shot of Miles Davis with the byline "The Chief" and hearing his well-known voice making quick comments, the stage was set. Toronto tabla player, Ravi Naimpally, started a spiritual solo under the spot lights. This led to a groovy medley featuring pieces from "Jack Johnson," "One Phone Call," and "That's What Happened." Etienne Charles had the first solo on trumpet followed by Antoine Roney standing right in the middle up front and playing his soprano vertically. The band quietened down somewhat with David Gilmore leading on "New Blues" featured on Live Around The World (Warner Brothers, 1996). Robert Irving III on keyboards and Etienne Charles steadily opened the next piece "In A Silent Way" that would build up to the solid theme of "It's About That Time." Throughout the evening, DJ Logic provided the complementary and appropriate sound effects and voices with his turntables and electronic gadgetry. Dwayne MonoNeon Thomas Jr. provided the solid grounding on the indispensable bass.

Following a short rendition of "Sanctuary," Irving slowed things up with "Nefertiti" that then paved the way to a percussion solo including the use of the triangle setting up "Decoy."

What was also refreshing is that the set list of the evening contained different pieces besides "Pharaoh's Dance" from the innovative album Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) that exemplified Miles' electric focus. Many other tunes could have been picked but that doesn't matter. This band represents the continued legacy of a major figure in jazz that the treasure chest is endless to pick from.

Munyungo Jackson stepped up front to lead the audience in rhythmic clapping as he displayed his full control and abilities on the shakere. At one point he traded percussive riffs with the tabla while sitting on a cajón. Jackson's addition added a fun dynamic to the attentive but discrete crowd.

The evening ended with the slow funky and catchy "Jean-Pierre" but not before adding Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" for a greatly appreciated encore.

Hopefully this show reminded the audience of a pivotal period of Miles Davis' impact on jazz as well as introducing the essence of jazz rock to new ears.

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