Miles Davis: Selim




Miles Davis (trumpet)


Live-Evil (Columbia Legacy C2K 65135)

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Miles Davis (trumpet),

Steve Grossman (sax), Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock (electric pianos), Keith Jarrett (organ), Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion), Hermeto Pascoal (drums, vocals)


Composed by Miles Davis


Recorded: New York, June 3, 1970


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

For some reason I always get a kick out of famous people who reverse the letters in their names or songs to have a little fun. Frank Sinatra painted under the name Artanis. Oprah Winfrey's production company is named Harpo. My favorite, for obvious reasons, was the business use of Retlaw by Walt Disney. But when someone really cool like Miles Davis took it a step farther, the simple little clever act became even cooler. Live-Evil is one of the hippest palindromes ever created! Besides its title, the album also includes the reverse-lettered tunes "Sivad" and "Selim."

Live-Evil is a very important recording and you need to hear it. But be forewarned: there is no middle ground. You either hate the album or it scares you to death. It is the biggest muddle of electronic short circuits and musical dead ends you are ever likely to find. It makes the disjointed music of someone like James Blood Ulmer sound almost lullabyish. Live-Evil is a 97% free jazz wank-fest lacking structure.

I chose to review "Selim" because it is the other 3%. Fusion players are always wise to put a beautiful, slower and less complicated cut on their records. "Selim" fits that bill. It is a lovely, spacey, Latin-tinged ballad dominated by the serene vocals of percussionist Hermeto Pascoal, who sings wordlessly in tandem with Davis's horn. If you could play the theme from the TV show Star Trek at 16 RPM you would get a good idea of what this tune sounds like. Retlaw rates "Selim" as very doog.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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