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Miles Davis: The Complete On The Corner Sessions

Doug Collette By

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Encased and bound in metal, its colorful artwork raised on the surface of the outer box, The Complete On The Corner Sessions documents the final studio recordings of the late Miles Davis before he went on his hiatus from the mid-seventies to early eighties. This six-CD set depicts how skillfully the man with the horn expanded his skill as a bandleader and recording artist by drawing on the skills of others with complementary talent.

The garish hot pink and blue color scheme of the attached booklet makes it difficult to discern some of the detail included in the chronology of events (a plethora of color and black and white photos are actually more illustrative). But as you read with difficulty and listen with increasing involvement, it becomes clear it's not that important to know what happened when and with what musicians: Miles was recording less to make an album than to broaden his own horizons and that of contemporary jazz in general.

To that end he enlisted the aid of musical figures as astutely as he had in the past, when he recruited the likes of John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Tony Williams. Paul Buckmaster, who later went on to score recordings for The Rolling Stones and Elton John, brought his esoteric sense of melody and rhythm to "Ife and "Red China Blues by way of England and Europe, specifically via the influence of avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Producer/engineer Teo Macero deserves the special props afforded him by reissue supervisor Bob Belden in a spotlight essay, notwithstanding the occasional derogatory comment from Davis himself over the years. On one extended track ("Calypso Frelimo ) after another ("He Loved Him Madly ), as more economical takes ("Big Fun ), come and go, the sequencing of master performances like the title song and "One on One assume a logic all their own, which Macero further clarified through his use of looping, editing and, no doubt, unnamed techniques.



Bassist Michael Henderson is afforded less influence in this project than on the The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Columbia, 2005) or The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Columbia, 2003) boxes. But if the former Stevie Wonder sideman sounds less prominent here, it's only in relative terms. Pete Cosey's guitar, and the exotic percussion of Mtume on cuts like "Maiysha add textures to the extent that the electrified groove music on the previous sets sounds spare in comparison. Davis' own instrumental presence may be minimal, but his role as a catalyst cannot be underestimated.



Miles Davis commandeered three years of on-and-off studio work and live concerts to create this dense complex music. With only bare melodic motifs interwoven within its circular rhythms, the derision to which the original album—and its successors, Big Fun, (Çolumbia 1974) and Get Up With It (Columbia, 1974)—was subject is, at least to some degree, understandable. But those very same attributes are the source of the ongoing contemporary influence of the sound, as chronicled here, thirty-five years after its initial release.


Track Listing: CD1: On The Corner (unedited master); On The Corner (take 4); One and One (unedited master); Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X (unedited master); Jabali. CD2:Ife; Chieftain; Rated X; Turnaround (take 14); U - Turnaround (take 15). CD3: Billy Preston; The Hen (Untitled Original A (take 1); Big Fun/Holly-wuud (take 2); Big Fun/Holly-wuud (take 3); Peace (Untitled Original (take 5)); Mr. Foster. CD4: Calypso Frelimo; He Loved Him Madly. CD5: Maiysha; Mtum; Mtume (take 11); Hip Skip (Untitled Original (take 2)); What They Do (Untitled Original (take 14)); Minnie (Latin (take 7)). CD6: Red China Blues; On the Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' of One Thing and Doin' Another/Vote for Miles; Black Satin; One And One; Helen Butte/Mr. Freedom X (master); Big Fun; Holly-wuud.

Personnel: March 9, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Wally Chambers: harmonica; Cornell Dupree: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; Bernard Purdie: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Wade Marcus: brasoprano saxophone arrangement; Billy Jackson: rhythm arrangement. June 1, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone; Chick Corea: synthesizer; Herbie Hancock: organ; Harold I. Williams: electric piano; John McLaughlin: guitar; Collin Walcott: sitar; Paul Buckmaster: cello; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Jabali Billy Hart: drums, percussion, bgo; Charles Don Alias: congas, percussion; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. June 6, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Carlos Garnett: alto saxoophone, tenor saxophone; Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet; Herbie Hancock: electric piano, synthesizer; Harold I. Williams: electric piano, synthesizer; Lonnie Liston Smith: organ; David Creamer: guitar; Collin Walcott: sitar; Paul Buckmaster: cello; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums, handclaps; Jabali Billy Hart: drums, handclaps; Charles Don Alias: percussion, handclaps; James Mtume Forman: percussion, handclaps; Badal Roy: tabla, handclaps. June 12, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Carlos Garnett: soprano saxophone; Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet; Lonnie Liston Smith: organ; Harold I. Williams: electric piano, synthesizer; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; Jabali Billy Hart: drums, percussion; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. August 23, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Cedric Lawson: organ; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna: sitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; Badal Roy: tabla; James Mtume Forman: congas. September 6, 1972: Miles Davis: organ; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna: sitar; Cedric Lawson: synthesizer; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. November 29, 1972: Miles Davis: trumpet; Carlos Garnett: soprano saxophone; Cedric Lawson: keyboards; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna: sitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. December 8, 1972: Miles Davis: organ; Carlos Garnett: soprano saxophone; Cedric Lawson: keyboards; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna: sitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. January 4, 1973: Miles Davis: trumpet; Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone; Cedric Lawson: keyboards; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Khalil Balakrishna: sitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion; Badal Roy: tabla. July 26, 1973: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone, flute; Pete Cosey: guitar; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion. September 17, 1973: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Dave Liebman: tenor saxophone, flute; John Stubblefield: soprano saxophone; Pete Cosey: guitar; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion. September 18, 1973: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Dave Liebman: ts; Pete Cosey: guitar; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas. June 19, 1974: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Dave Liebman: flute; Pete Cosey: guitar; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Dominique Gaumont: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion. October 7, 1974: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Sonny Fortune: soprano saxophone, flute; Pete Cosey: guitar; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Dominique Gaumont: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion. November 6, 1974: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Sonny Fortune: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, fluteute; Pete Cosey: guitar, drums, percussion; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Dominique Gaumont: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion. May 5, 1975: Miles Davis: trumpet, organ; Sam Morrison: tenor saxophone; Pete Cosey: guitar, percussion; Reggie Lucas: guitar; Michael Henderson: electric bass; Al Foster: drums; James Mtume Forman: congas, percussion

Title: The Complete On The Corner Sessions | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings

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