Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Miles... From India - A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis (Times Square, 2008)

There have been many tributes to trumpet great Miles Davis over the years, but this is one of the more interesting and original ones. Davis was interested in the music of India and it influenced several of his performances during his "electric" period in the 1970's. This album recasts familiar themes from such landmark Miles Davis recordings as Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way and Kind of Blue with an East meets West sensibility. The project involves two dozen musicians from the United States and India among them many alumni of Davis’ bands like Chick Corea, Ron Carter and John McLaughlin. The use of Indian instruments such as the sitar and tablas as well as traditional western jazz instruments and violin are well integrated. Add to this some raucous electric guitar on some of the fusion pieces and it makes for some pretty compelling music. There is a mixture of electric and acoustic music from different phases from Davis's career, interpreted from a near eastern perspective. From the acoustic side are "All Blues" and "So What" which has wordless vocals adding to the otherworldly vibe of the music. From the electric perspective are two versions of "Ife" one of which features some incendiary violin work that recalls early Mahavishnu Orchestra. Wallace Roney is in the hot seat throughout playing trumpet, and though he is often criticized for having a tome too reminiscent of Davis, that is hardly a hindrance in this case. Overall this was a very well done set with all of the musicians working for a common goal and creating a very fine fusion. The album was completed in two parts with musicians in India recording their contributions and then American musicians recording in New York with the contributions edited together digitally. Things seem to have come together quite seamlessly despite the vast distances. This album will be released on April 15.

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