Miles Davis: Violet




Miles Davis (trumpet)


Aura (Columbia CK 45332)

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Miles Davis (trumpet), John McLaughlin (guitar),

Vince Wilburn (electronic drums), 31 other musicians on unspecified sections


Composed by Palle Mikkelborg


Recorded: Copenhagen, Denmark, 1984


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Danish horn player and composer Palle Mikkelborg wrote the 10-part suite Aura in 1984 as a tribute to Miles Davis. That year Davis was awarded the prestigious Sonning Music Prize given out in Denmark. Later that year, Miles returned to Copenhagen to record. He was not alone. His old friend John McLaughlin came as the other principal soloist. Davis's nephew, drummer Vince Wilburn, also joined him. A score of other mostly Dutch jazz and classical musicians were utilized to play Mikkelborg's opus. Though recorded in 1984, contractual issues delayed the album's release for five years. In 1990, Aura won a Grammy.

Mikkelborg based his suite on the 10 letters of Miles Davis's name and the theoretical musical colors Mikkelborg heard when listening to Davis. Inventive and grand in scope, the piece actually calls for the entire pallet of tonal colors. But its primary success is owed to the tandem of Davis and McLaughlin. A quarter century earlier, Davis had used McLaughlin for the first time on In a Silent Way. Their rapport was evident from their very first traded notes. McLaughlin went on to become one of Davis's most frequent guest stars, adding indelible marks to A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Bitches Brew, Get Up With It, On the Corner and other Davis albums.

"Violet" is the last of Aura's 10 parts. McLaughlin plays a jagged line reminiscent of his opening salvos in the suite's first section. Miles answers. "Violet" is an electric fusion blues slower than cold molasses flowing uphill. Two masters have an intense discussion. That is all you need to know.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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