Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Various Artists - Miles Espanol (Entertainment One Music, 2011)

Much like the Miles From India album released a few years ago, this tribute album to the great trumpeter and bandleader Miles Davis attempts to place his music in a cultural context. This time using the Davis - Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain as the starting point for the music, a couple of Davis compositions and several originals are placed in the context of cross-cultural exchange. Producer Bob Belden brought together some real heavies, some Davis alumni, too. Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Ron Carter, Sammy Figueroa, Sonny Fortune, Alex Acuña, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Rabih Abu-Khalil and many more are configured in anything from a duet to a large ensemble to bring the music two light. Sprawling across two compact discs, the music explores the Davis influence on modern jazz through an Iberian lens. Chick Corea is a natural for this project with his Spanish heritage, and his pianistic skills are featured on "Trampolin" and "Tirititran." Middle Eastern elements are woven into the music quite nicely on the opening "Concierto De Aranjuez" featuring Rabih Abou Khalil's dexterous oud playing. The original classical composition was a centerpiece of the Sketeches of Spain LP, so it's a natural starting point for this album, albeit in a radically revised form. "Saeta/Pan Piper" even has a bagpipe echoing the muezzin's call to prayer. Disc two delves into the classic Davis LP Kind of Blue for a meditation on "Flamenco Sketches" and several different drummers and percussionists keep the rhythms shifting and undulating. Overall this album worked quite well, though the two discs could have been edited to one killer album instead of spreading over such terrain. But that is a small quibble, this isn't your normal tribute album, rather something more akin to the refraction of an image through the context of modern day jazz and world music. Miles Espanol - amazon.com

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