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Third Stream, an attempt to meld aspects of jazz and European classical and world musics, as a term may have gone away, but that can't be said for the musical movement of that name that flourished at the mid-point of the 20th Century. Although not often acknowledged, it has had a lasting influence on the way jazz is viewed today: as classical music; concert jazz; expanded ensembles and works; the repertoire movement: Gunther Schuller's essay in the booklet to this new edition of Sketches of Spain is very informative on the whole Third Stream phenomenon of the era.
Although a Columbia album from the '50s that featured Miles Davis, JJ Johnson and others, Music for Brass, is the most important template of Third Stream, the music's most famous recorded icons are the three orchestral collaborations between Gil Evans and Miles Davis: Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain. And of the three, Sketches of Spain best represents a Third Stream aesthetic. Or to put it bluntly: it is the least jazzy album they made. Suffused with the melancholic, repressed passion of flamenco and shimmering with the brooding modal minimalism of that music, Sketches of Spain is a triumph of moody impressionism. It's also been released many times, including in the later '90s in a boxed set featuring all of the Evans/Davis studio sessions. That box even included the multiple rehearsal and alternate (incomplete) takes from the sessions that take up half of the second of these two CDs. The first CD includes the original LP plus the outtake, "Song of Our Country." The most logical, most-worth-hearing track on CD Two is a live concert recording of "Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)," the longest track on the original LP, in what is generally acknowledged to be a superior performance/recording. The other track not in the box is "Teo," a track from the Miles Quintet album, Someday My Prince Will Come. The justification for including it, beyond filling up a CD, is that it is influenced by the flamenco/Spanish music Davis did with Evans. But if that's so, why not include "Flamenco Sketches" from Kind of Blue?
Thanks to the jazz repertoire movement and college jazz programsand Quincy Jones, who created an ill-conceived, synth-heavy recreation of the Miles/Gil oeuvre at Montreux as a swan song for a fast-fading Milesthe music Evans and Davis created together has been revisited, performed and recorded anew. Justin DiCioccio has created concert versions of Sketches of Spain and Miles Ahead for his Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, both projects featuring soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman. On Sketches Liebman's soprano fails to capture the haunting melancholy of Miles' horn, but he's more successful on the more conventionally jazz oriented material on Miles Ahead Live. If nothing else, this recording proves that a more dexterous, fluent and tonally sweeping, robust horn like Liebman's soprano can essay Evans' arrangements and pull it off.
Tracks and Personnel
Sketches of Spain (50th Anniversary Edition)
Tracks: Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio); Will O' The Wisp; The Pan Piper; Saeta; Solea.
Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet, flugelhorn; Paul Chambers: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Elvin Jones: percussion. The Gil Evans Orchestra (collective personel): Ernie Royal: trumpet; Taft Jordan: trumpet; Louis Mucci: trumpet; Johnny Coles: trumpet; Dick Hixon: trombone; Frank Rehak: trombone; Jimmy Buffington: French horn; John Barrows: French horn; Earl Chapin: French horn; Joe Singer: French horn; Tony Miranda: French horn; Jimmy McAllister: tuba; Bill Barber: tuba; Al Block; flute; Eddie Caine: flugelhorn; Harold Feldman: flute, clarinet, oboe; Danny Bank: bass clarinet; Romeo Penque: oboe; Jack Knitzer: bassoon; Janet Putman: harp; Jose Mangual: percussion.
Miles Ahead Live
Tracks: Springsville; The Maids of Cadiz; The Duke; My Ship; Miles Ahead; Blues For Pablo; New Rhumba; The Meaning of the Blues; Lament; I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone But You);
Personnel: Justin DiCioccio: conductor; Dave Liebman: soprano sax; Patrick Cornelius: alto sax; Chris Shade: clarinet, flute; Remy Le Boeuf: bass clarinet, flute, oboe, alto flute, clarinet; Jacob Rodriguez: bass clarinet, alto flute; Dan Urness, Volker Deglmann, Phil Dizack, Greg Paulus, Lee Silver: trumpets; Michael Boscarino; Matt Musselman; Joe Freuen; Ted Adams: trombones; Evan Geiger, Michael Rosenberger, Alessandra Rodda: french horns; Dan Peck: tuba; Josh Paris: bass; Joe Nero: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.