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Miles Davis: Water Babies

Jim Santella By

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Every morning, about an hour before sunrise, the day breaks gradually, with little noticeable fanfare. It’s the best time of day outdoors. The nighttime goblins have gone to their hiding places, loud day creatures have yet to rise, and it’s just us with the cool morning mist and that dim kind of landscape that lets us see only what we want to see.

When Water Babies was recorded in 1967 and 1968, Miles Davis had with him one his best working units. His and Wayne Shorter’s compositions allowed for soothing impressionism without losing sight of straight-ahead jazz. Changes would come later. Here, we find Davis and Shorter sharing their clear tonal concepts through wide-open horns and timeless, acoustic moods. In June 1967, the band’s round sound included Herbie Hancock on acoustic piano. By November 1968, the switch was made to electric piano. To capture the album’s mood, Hancock and Chick Corea expressed the instrument with a water lily kind of gentle touch. Spare and lyrical, the music brings relaxed delight with every listen. Added to this reissue is “Splash,” a funky affair that was originally issued on a different album in a slightly different form. Here, the two-keyboard introduction is included, and the song’s connection to “Dual Mr. Anthony Tillmon Williams Process” cannot now be overlooked. Taken together, the final two tracks signal a change was then about to take place in the Miles Davis ensemble sound.

The album’s liner notes include a thorough, biographical essay by James Isaacs with insight that makes the package even more valuable. Water Babies is a collector’s item that continues to capture our imaginations with every listen.

Track Listing: Water Babies; Capricorn; Sweet Pea; Two Faced; Dual Mr. Anthony Tillmon Williams Process; Splash.

Personnel: Miles Davis- trumpet; Wayne Shorter- tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock- piano, electric piano; Chick Corea- electric piano; Ron Carter, Dave Holland- bass; Tony Williams- drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Columbia Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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