This LP gave listeners a good sampling of mid-1970s Pat Martino. The distinctive yet flexible guitarist teams up with Gil Goldstein (who sticks here to acoustic piano), the great bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Billy Hart. Martino plays more standards than usual (four out of six songs, including "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Blue Bossa"), and, of his two originals, "Three Base Hit" has the spirit and fire of bop. An excellent outing.
Sony Master Sound Reissue Series (1-bit DSD CDs in Mini-LP sleeves with black OBI strip). Japanese electric Miles, featuring 2 long tracks – "Zimbabwe" and "Gondwana" – spread out over the course of a sweet double live set! The album gives Miles and the group plenty of room to groove and stretch out – hitting notes that are both funky and noisy, often at the same time! Michael Henderson lays down some great bass work on the set, and major solos are by Sonny Fortune, Pete Cosey, and Reggie Lucas! Great stuff – and more proof that Miles in the 70s was a very very deep place!
Sony Master Sound Reissue Series (1-bit DSD CDs in Mini-LP sleeves with black OBI strip). One of the few cases in jazz where an oft-played classic still resonates with power! The record itself is a key cap to Miles Davis' already-groundbreaking years of the 60s – a bold step forward, not just for his nascent electric sound, but also for jazz in general – and the benchmark by which so many other records would be judged (and fail) in years to come!
ESP marks the beginning of a revitalization for Miles Davis, as his second classic quintet – saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams – gels, establishing what would become their signature adventurous hard bop. Miles had been moving toward this direction in the two years preceding the release of ESP and he had recorded with everyone outside of Shorter prior to this record, but his addition galvanizes the group, pushing them toward music that was recognizably bop but as adventurous as jazz's avant-garde.
With IN A SILENT WAY, the elements of popular music, blues and electronics that had been implicit in Miles Davis' previous recordings now came center stage, and the trumpeter never looked back again. IN A SILENT WAY is Miles' BIRTH OF THE COOL/MILES AHEAD/KIND OF BLUE for the rock generation. Gone are the rhythmic and harmonic trappings of bebop. In their place, Miles conjures a hypnotic, subliminal dance pulse and an airy, celestial drone of electric keyboards. Miles fell in love with the bell tones and flute-like textures of Fender/Rhodes electric pianos, and in the hands of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul (who doubles on organ), they create layer upon layer of choral texture, in great reverberant washes of color and counterpoint.
If I rate Get Up With It a five, or maybe Live/Evil, or Big Fun, or On the Corner, fives, or maybe even Sketches of Spain, a five, or Kind of Blue, then I guess this is a three and a half, or a four, so I give it a four, as if this were American Bandstand. But it's a Miles Davis record. If it's Miles or Coltrane, or, oh I don't know, Poulenc, perhaps people could "check themselves" just a bit. Man With the Horn is a fine record, a bridge in some ways, if you will, between some of the pre-electric Miles, as "jazz," and the psychedelic fusion, and then the later fusion funk. Man With the Horn is precious to me, and not enough people appreciate it, in my opinion.
Along with its sister recording, Pangaea, Agharta was recorded live in February of 1975 at the Osaka Festival Hall in Japan. Amazingly enough, given that these are arguably Davis' two greatest electric live records, they were recorded the same day. Agharta was performed in the afternoon and Pangaea in the evening. Of the two, Agharta is superior. The band with Davis – saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarists Pete Cosey (lead) and Reggie Lucas (rhythm), bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist James Mtume – was a group who had their roots in the radically streetwise music recorded on 1972's On the Corner, and they are brought to fruition here.
After George Coleman left the Miles Davis Quintet, tenor-saxophonist Sam Rivers took his place for a short period including a tour of Japan. Davis did not care for Rivers's avant-garde style (they failed to develop any chemistry) and soon replaced him, but this live LP (originally only issued in Japan) survived to document this brief association. The music (five lengthy versions of standards) is actually of high quality with both Davis and Rivers in fine form and the young rhythm section (pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams) pushing the trumpeter/leader to open up his style.
This album is perhaps most significant for the process it set in motion – the collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis that would produce Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, two of Davis' best albums. That said, this album is a miracle in itself, the result of a big gamble on the part of Columbia Records, who put together Evans and Davis, who hadn't worked together since recording the critically admired but commercially unsuccessful sides that would later be issued as The Birth of the Cool.