Carl Orr: Miles of Miles

Australian jazz guitarist Carl Orr has toured and recorded with Billy Cobham, among others. But he has many fine projects in his own name, including Mean It, his third outing as leader. He decided to focus on highly electric jazz-funk music filled with plenty of improvisation.

On the tribute cover "Miles of Miles," the rhythm section of Armstrong, Gander and Lincy lay down a neck-bending groove. Love's organ funks things up. By the time Orr shows off his considerable chops, we are already quite deep in the muck. Bikovsky's trumpet expounds Miles's late '60s period just about the time Miles was leaving straight-ahead for fusion. Orr and Bikovsky participate in some melodic call and response as the tune fades. Their boots, now stuck in the mud, must be left behind.

April 27, 2008 · 0 comments


Mark Ledford: Blue in Green

The late Mark Ledford was a gentle, multi-instrumental hit man for the Pat Metheny Group. Here, a modern, Hip-Hop spin is put on Miles' composition. With some slinky drum programming, rubbery basslines, layered vocalese, and terrific muted trumpet work, Ledford came up with an example of what Doo-Bop could have been. Sorry Miles, it's true! The listener can revel in the funk without the jazz details being swamped by the modern technology. It's a tough line to walk, but Mark Ledford made it look easy.

December 03, 2007 · 0 comments


Ron Carter: Someday My Prince Will Come

Ron Carter's ensembles often bring a wry sense of humor to their performances. This song is especially susceptible to tongue-in-cheek interpretation. Snow White's bedtime song for dwarfs somehow made its strange path from (Walt) Disney to (Miles) Davis -- probably via Dave Brubeck, who handled the first jazz recording of the tune in 1957. Carter starts with a brief homage to the famous intro from Miles' classic recording, before unfolding his elaborate variations. The melody floats around in a calming lilt before entering the turbulence of a queasy turnaround, which seems undecided on whether to modulate or stay in B flat. Pianist Scott proceeds to test out wry Monkish dissonances, polytonal games with the melody, and a bit of hard bop funkiness -- trying on various costumes in an attempt to discover his own musical identity. When we return to the melody, we are temporarily in the key of B -- a key that Snow White reportedly detested -- but we soon get back to where we started, with that throbbing Paul Chambers pedal point, followed by a rubato coda. Unfortunately all seven dwarfs were still awake and demanding an encore.

December 01, 2007 · 0 comments


Ron Carter: My Funny Valentine

How many different ways can a bass player handle a ballad in 4/4 time? Listen to this track and you will find Ron Carter demonstrating most of them. Scott plays admirably, but Carter steals the show with his feints and jabs, and the sheer creativity of his lines. More than one thousand jazz versions of "My Funny Valentine" have been recorded over the years -- including a classic Miles Davis performance at Lincoln Center in 1964 with Ron Carter in the band. But this new-millennium ensemble ignores the weight of history, and dishes out a fresh performance that both brings the standard up to date but also respects the mood of the Richard Rodgers original.

November 29, 2007 · 1 comment


Ron Carter: Seven Steps to Heaven

Victor Feldman's stint with Miles Davis was little more than a one-night stand (although his ballad accompaniment on "Summer Night" serves as lasting testimony to their chemistry). Feldman preferred the security of studio work (bad decision) to the Davis school of jazz, but he left behind his most famous composition, "Seven Steps to Heaven." When Miles recorded it with his new band -- some fellas named Herbie, Ron and Tony -- he made jazz history. Forty-three years later, Ron Carter leads a new generation of jazz players on this proven seven-step program. Hot band and a smartly played arrangement full of surprises. The call-and-response between hard swing and Latin percussion is especially effective. Listeners should compare with the original version from the Age of Camelot to get the full effect.

November 29, 2007 · 0 comments


Paul Horn: Mirage for Miles

The exceptional versatility of jazz flutists transcends the fact that most were primarily saxophonists. Even fulltime flutists such as Herbie Mann and Hubert Laws were discontented with a single genre. Nobody encapsulates this restless eclecticism better than Paul Horn, who spent two years with Chico Hamilton, graced Roger Corman's beatnik flick A Bucket of Blood (1959), performed a jazz mass, took up tran- scendental meditation, recorded unaccompanied solos at the Taj Mahal and Egypt's Great Pyramid, and played duets with killer whales. With this stylish allusion to Miles Davis's "So What," Horn shows his killer jazz chops and wails without whales.

November 07, 2007 · 0 comments


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