Joe Henderson: Milestones

Joe Henderson was never more popular than during his Verve years of the '90s, with his well-received tributes to Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. For the Davis project, the always inquisitive Henderson did not go for the obvious choices, instead selecting rarely covered pieces such as "Teo," "Swing Spring," "Side Car" and "Milestones." No, not the totally different "Milestones" of 1958 – this was instead Miles's composition from the very first recording session he ever led, in 1947, with Charlie Parker on tenor. Miles later reworked the 1947 "Milestones" for a 1953 date, titling it "Miles Ahead," not to be mistaken for the better-known 1957 Davis/Gil Evans work by the same name (which Henderson also selected). Confusion may reign here, but definitely not in the music.

The rewardingly compatible pairing of Henderson and Scofield for So Near, So Far makes one wish that Scofield had been able to add Henderson to his own group around that time (or vice versa), as Joe Lovano was about to move on. Holland and Foster, of course, knew Miles's music first-hand and intimately, and perform at their best. This "Milestones" is an easygoing, circular melodic theme with an attractive bridge, and would have fit right in on the Davis Birth of the Cool session. Henderson and Scofield play it in relaxed unison before the tenorist's compelling solo, which features his expressive tone and a typically restless attack that utilizes compressed, staccato phrases and intricately wound extended lines. Scofield's comping makes this sound like a heady blend of '60s and '80s Miles, and the guitarist's own solo, even with its distinctive distortion-enhanced voicings, appears to be transposing Henderson's artistic sensibility from tenor to guitar. Soul brothers indeed, and Henderson wisely invited Scofield back some five years later for his Verve adaptation of Porgy and Bess.

September 16, 2008 · 0 comments


Charlie Parker (with Miles Davis): Milestones

This session is significant for three reasons: Miles Davis is the leader and composer, Bird is playing tenor sax rather than alto, and the tune is technically one of the first “cool jazz” ensemble recordings. By the summer of 1947, Miles was coming under the influence of Claude Thornhill arranger Gil Evans, whose apartment on 55th St. was a crash pad and music-theory think tank for Bird, Miles and Gerry Mulligan. In the summer of 1947, Miles certainly was exposed to Evans’ radical charts for Anthropology and Robbin’s Nest. Miles’ interactions with Evans intensified in the months that followed, resulting in the Birth of the Cool nonet in late1948 and early 1949. Unlike many straight bop rave-ups based on the blues or Tin Pan Alley chord changes, Milestones in 1947 embraced space and featured a cooler, Evans-like melody line. Listen to Miles’ solo and you’ll hear the 1950s Miles breaking through bop's shell. Swing, bop, cool—call it what you will, it was all the same to Bird, who turns in a fabulous solo on tenor.

March 04, 2008 · 1 comment


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