Miles, Miles, Miles

Joel Roberts By

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16 years after Miles Davis' death, the legendary trumpeter continues to exert a powerful influence on the jazz world, as three new releases exploring three very different aspects of his rich musical legacy demonstrate.

Ron Carter
Dear Miles
Blue Note

Ron Carter, the bassist in Miles' classic '60s quintet, offers a tribute to his former boss on Dear Miles, his latest effort on Blue Note. Leading his longtime quartet (Stephen Scott on piano, Payton Crossley on drums, Roger Squitero on percussion), Carter revisits songs associated with Miles' repertoire from the '50s-60s. The tunes are mostly standards - or songs Davis made into standards - that Carter and company perform with an understated authority that was the essence of Davis' approach during that period, while also showing off their own unique personalities. Highlights include a lively take on Miles' "Seven Steps to Heaven , a stirring Carter-Scott collaboration on "My Funny Valentine and Carter's memorable bass lead on "Stella By Starlight . As always, Carter is a commanding presence, overseeing the proceedings with a subtle control and artistry unmatched among modern bassists.

Conrad Herwig
Sketches of Spain Y Mas
Half Note

Meanwhile, trombonist Conrad Herwig returns with a second volume examining "The Latin Side of Miles Davis , this one focused on Sketches of Spain, the landmark 1960 orchestral project Miles made with Gil Evans. Recorded live at Blue Note in 2003 with a nine-piece group, the album is built around a thrilling 25-minute "Sketches of Spain suite that features haunting clarinet and alto sax solos from Paquito D'Rivera, mellow Miles-esque trumpet work from Brian Lynch and Herwig's own expressive trombone leads. Rounding out the album are high-energy AfroCuban and AfroCaribbean interpretations of other Miles classics like "Seven Steps to Heaven and "Solar .

Various Artists
Back on the Corner
Tone Center

A much different side of Miles is showcased in Back On The Corner, a project led by saxophonist Dave Liebman, who played on the original On the Corner sessions with Miles in 1972 (celebrating its 35th recording anniversary last month). This is electric Miles, the post-funk, post-fusion renegade, eschewing the beautiful melodies that made his reputation for harder edged rhythmic textures closer to James Brown and Sly Stone.

Liebman and a sextet featuring the twin electric guitars of Vic Juris and Mike Stern (another ex-Miles sideman) revisit a couple of Miles tunes from the era ("Ife and "Black Satin ), along with Liebman and group originals that channel the same sort of elemental, free-form blues and funk. It's heady, sometimes raucous stuff and a long way from "Stella by Starlight or "Sketches of Spain - which only serves as an example of the protean heritage Miles left behind.

Tracks and Personnel

Dear Miles

Tracks: Gone; Seven Steps to Heaven; My Funny Valentine; Bag's Groove; Someday My Prince Will Come; Cut and Paste; Stella by Starlight; As Time Goes By; Bye Bye Blackbird; 595.

Personnel: Ron Carter: bass; Stephen Scott: piano; Peyton Crossley: drums; Roger Squitero: percussion.

Sketches of Spain Y Mas

Tracks: Solar, Seven Steps To Heaven, Sketches Of Spain, Petits Machins.

Personnel: Conrad Herwig: trombone; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Paquito D'Rivera; alto saxophone, clarinet; Dave Valentin: Flute; Mario Rivera: baritone saxophone; Edsel Gomez: Piano; John Benitez:: bass; Robby Ameen: drums; Richie Flores: congas, percussion.

Back on the Corner

Tracks: 5th Street; IFE; Bass Interlude; Black Satin; Bela; Drum Interlude; New Mambo; Acoustic Guitar Interlude; Mesa D'Espana; Electric Guitar Interlude; J.B. Meets Sly/5th Street Reprise.

Personnel: Dave Liebman: tenor and soprano saxophones, piano, synthesizer, wooden flute; Vic Juris: electric and acoustic guitar; Mike Stern: electric guitar; Anthony Jackson: contrabass guitar; Tony Marino: acoustic, electric and stick bass; Marko Marcinko: drums, percussion.


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