On May 19, 1961, Miles Davis was showcased at a Carnegie Hall concert, performing with his quintet of the time (tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb) and, for the first time in public, the Gil Evans Orchestra. Although thought of by some later on as being in an off period since he was between innovations, Miles' trumpet chops were actually in prime form during 1961-63, as he shows throughout the date. All of the music on this 1998 two-CD set has been out before, either on the original LP of the same name or on the later album More Music From the Legendary Carnegie Hall Concert, but this is the first time that the two sets have been reproduced in their original order.
Between harsh criticism (due to the retro opportunistic use of Tropicália), and sectarian defense, Tropicália 2 yielded a Caetano Veloso/Gilberto Gil tour through E.U.A. and Europe one year after this release. The reference to Tropicália was used as a safe-conduct for the duo's incursions in electronics, axé music (the contemporary and pragmatic sound of Bahia) and other commercial exploitation – since under Tropicália everything goes (or used to go, some 30 years ago). The album opens with "Haiti," a dry percussive electronic pattern over which Caetano and Gil speak verses dealing with racism; "Cinema Novo" is a beautiful samba, whose lyrics "explain" and greet the Brazilian cinema movement which gained the world. "Nossa Gente" brings the percussive sounds of axé music together with funk brass attacks.
Brazil's former minister of culture is enjoying himself. Freed from the constraints of office, the country's best-known singer-songwriter is clearly determined to show that his voice, guitar work and range are as impressive as ever. His last studio album, Banda Larga Cordel, showed he was still willing to experiment, and this new live set is a further reminder of his ability to develop. His lengthy career has included playing a key role in the rock-influenced Tropicália movement, the establishment of a Brazilian reggae scene, and excursions into anything from forró to electronica. On this album he is backed by his own acoustic guitar, with just a little help from his sons Bem and José, adding additional guitar, percussion and occasional bass.
Gil Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man set a standard for vocal artistry and political awareness that few musicians will ever match. His unique proto-rap vocal style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists, and nowhere is his style more powerful than on the classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Even though the media – the very entity attacked in this song – has used, reused, and recontextualized the song and its title so many times, the message is so strong that it has become almost impossible to co-opt. Musically, the track created a formula that modern hip-hop would follow for years to come: bare-bones arrangements featuring pounding basslines and stripped-down drumbeats. Although the song features plenty of outdated references to everything from Spiro Agnew and Jim Webb to The Beverly Hillbillies, the force of Scott-Heron's well-directed anger makes the song timeless. More than just a spoken word poet, Scott-Heron was also a uniquely gifted vocalist. On tracks like the reflective "I Think I'll Call It Morning" and the title track, Scott-Heron's voice is complemented perfectly by the soulful keyboards of Brian Jackson.