A dynamic front line of Davis, trombonist J.J. Johnson and the bassist's brother Jimmy Heath on tenor saxophone, gives each tune big band weight and texture. J.J. Johnson's lilting "Kelo" and tragic "Enigma" proceed from the orchestral tradition of BIRTH OF THE COOL, and his taut velvety tenor trombone counterpoint contrasts nicely with Davis' burnished midrange and brassy cry. Tenor man Jimmy Heath seems to take the Basie and Gillespie big bands as the jumping off point for his jazz classic "C.T.A.," and ends his own solo with an affectionate nod to Lester Young.
Miles' ballad turn on "I Waited For You" is one of his most alluring performances, while his effortless swing on "C.T.A." and "Ray's Idea" sums up his innovations in blues phrasing. But his solo and arrangement on "Tempus Fugit" are simply transcendent. This Bud Powell anthem for modernists generates a challenging set of symphonic variations, driven along by the emotional intensity of Art Blakey. The joy with which Miles and Blakey morph between swing and Afro-Cuban rhythms, blues and bop phrasing, is what jazz is all about.