Miles Davis: One Phone Call/Street Scenes


One Phone Call / Street Scenes


Miles Davis (trumpet, voices)


You're Under Arrest (Columbia CK 40023)

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Miles Davis (trumpet, voices), Sting (French policeman's voice),

Marek Olko (Polish voice), Bob Berg (sax), Rober Irving III (synthesizers), John Scofield (guitar), Darryl Jones (bass), Al Foster (drums), Steve Thornton (percussion), James Prinderville (handcuffs)


Composed by Miles Davis


Recorded: New York, 1985


Rating: 82/100 (learn more)

Ken Burns's PBS documentary Jazz (2000) implied that Miles Davis sold his soul to commercialism when he began to play fusion and jazz-rock in the late 1960s and early '70s. The fact that In a Silent Way and A Tribute to Jack Johnson sold squat meant nothing to those who put forth this argument. It is true that Bitches Brew sold a lot of records. But Miles was helping to create this new market, not exploit it. Then in one of the most arrogant and foolish acts in jazz history, the documentary's producers ignored the entire fusion movement. Mark me as bitter to this day over that unforgivable slight.

Now, if the pundits had said Miles Davis made You're Under Arrest with the purpose of appealing to the commercial sector, that would be true. Miles covered pop hits from Michael Jackson and Cindy Lauper. In 1985, you couldn't choose two more popular mainstream artists. The album is good because it is Miles Davis. But it marked a distinct change in his musical direction, which would last the rest of his life. From here on, Davis tried to reach the youth market that trailed him by one or two generations.

"One Phone Call/Street Scenes" is the bastard son of "Right Off" from A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Guitarist Scofield spends a good deal of his time playing the actual famous guitar chord riffs John McLaughlin had developed during the Jack Johnson jams. Scofield plays them a little lighter and with less of a growl. Before Davis plays trumpet, we hear him as a police officer using his raspy voice to arrest some juvenile delinquents. Davis eventually punctuates the busy crime scene with some short bursts. A repetitive but enjoyable funk beat takes over. Davis goes outside the box for a minute, as does Scofield. These sections are also reminiscent of Jack Johnson. When Sting appears as a French policeman, it further evinces Davis's new circle of friends and latest musical desires. Not that this was a bad thing. While "One Phone Call/Street Scenes" is an interesting exercise for its nostalgic references and indication of a new direction for Davis's music, it does not live up to the earlier material from which it was born (legitimately or not).

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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