Miles Davis: The Essential Miles Davis

Jim Santella By

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A seminal figure in the growth and development of jazz, Miles Davis helped move the genre from bebop to smooth jazz. Sony Music arranges the phases of Davis' achievements into five major periods:

1955-1961 Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Kind Of Blue
1957-1968 Miles Davis, Gil Evans: their collaborations
1965-1968 Miles Davis and his second great quintets
1968-1972 Fusion and electronic instruments
Later Works

Davis remains the number one hall of fame selection on most valid jazz polls. His influence casts a wide shadow and his music will not be forgotten. The Essential Miles Davis, a two-disc set, offers a comprehensive overview of the trumpeter's recordings for seven different labels. In two and a half hours, the album travels from November 1945 to February 1986.

Pick your favorite highlight. There's early bebop with Charlie Parker. There's hard bop with Art Blakey. The "Cool School" with Gerry Mulligan had a distinctive sound. So did Davis' quintet with John Coltrane and Red Garland. His sextet with Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley stepped forward. Most readers are partial to Davis' orchestral work with Gil Evans. How about his quintet with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock?

Miles Davis' jazz didn't come to a halt in the 1960s. There was no retro movement. He grew. Surrounding himself with younger players who brought him innovation, Davis moved through new developments. Jazz fusion. New sounds. This led, eventually, to smooth jazz. However, Davis' pioneering spirit drove him forward. He never lost the excitement in his music. From hard rock, he moved into world music and hip-hop. Jazz never took a back seat; instead, Davis opened the doors wide and combined the forms.

The Essential Miles Davis includes a personal favorite: "Walkin'," with J.J. Johnson, Lucky Thompson, Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke. Davis' marvelous sextet is represented with "So What." Wynton Kelly, Hank Mobley and John Coltrane collaborate with Davis for "Someday My Prince Will Come." "My Funny Valentine" features the muscular tone of George Coleman and a sparkling 15-minute arrangement that features Herbie Hancock. "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" romps for 14 minutes of excitement, as John McLaughlin's guitar remains prominent. The smooth jazz of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" was recorded in 1984 and appeared on You're Under Arrest. Finally, the album ends with a selection from Tutu that expands the jazz horizon. Highly recommend for its fine sound reproduction and democratic song selection, this package offers the listener a panoramic view of the master's career.

Track Listing: Now's the Time; Jeru; Compulsion; Tempus Fugit; Walkin'; 'Round Midnight; Bye Bye Blackbird; New Rhumba; Generique; Summertime; So What; The Pan Piper; Someday My Prince Will Come; My Funny Valentine; E.S.P.; Nefertiti; Petits Machins (Little Stuff); Miles Runs the Voodoo Down; Little Church; Black Satin; Jean Pierre; Time After Time; Portia.

Personnel: Miles Davis- trumpet, organ on "Jean Pierre;" Charlie Parker- alto saxophone, tenor saxophone on "Compulsion;" Lee Konitz, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley- alto saxophone; Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath, Lucky Thompson, Barney Wilen, Hank Mobley, George Coleman, John Coltrane- tenor saxophone; Wayne Shorter- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Carlos Garnett, Bill Evans- soprano saxophone; Gerry Mulligan- baritone saxophone; Danny Bank- alto flute, bass clarinet; Bennie Maupin- bass clarinet; Sid Cooper- clarinet; Al Block, Harold Feldman- flute; Romeo Penque- oboe; Jack Knitzer- bassoon; Jerome Richardson, Romeo Penque- flute, alto flute, clarinet; Ernie Royal, Bernie Glow, Louis Mucci, Taft Jordan, Johnny Carisi, Johnny Coles- trumpet; Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson, Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Joe Bennett, Dick Hixon- trombone; Tom Mitchell- bass trombone; Junior Collins, Willie Ruff, Jimmy Buffington, Julius Watkins, Joe Singer, Tony Miranda, Gunther Schuller- French horn; Bill Barber- tuba; Janet Putnam- harp; Khalil Balakrishna- electric sitar; John McLaughlin, Reggie Lucas, Mike Stern, John Scofield- electric guitar; Dizzy Gillespie, Al Haig, Walter Bishop, Gil Coggins, Horace Silver, Rene Urtreger, Bill Evans, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly- piano; Herbie Hancock- piano, electric piano; Chick Corea, Larry Young- electric piano; Keith Jarrett- organ; Cedric Lawson, Robert Irving III- keyboard; Curley Russell, Joe Shulman, Percy Heath, Pierre Michelot, Paul Chambers- bass; Dave Holland, Ron Carter- bass, electric bass; Harvey Brooks, Darryl Jones- electric bass; Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Hart, Al Foster- drums; Don Alias- drums, congas; Badal Roy- tabla; Airto Moreira, Elvin Jones, Jose Mangual, Lennie White, Jumma Santos, Paulinho Da Costa, James "Mtume" Foreman, Mino Cinelu, Steve Thornton- percussion; Hermeto Pascoal- whistling; Marcus Miller- synth, keyboards, electric bass, soprano saxophone, sampling.

Title: The Essential Miles Davis | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Columbia Records


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