The Street's the same in New York or Frisco. It leads to heaven or hell, maybe both, and what comes down around you depends on how you travel just as much as where you're coming from.
In that sense, Miles Davis from St. Louis by way of jazz and Carlos Santana from San Francisco by way of rock have a great deal more in common than either may realize. These are philosophical albums, if one may be permitted to apply that adjective to musical composition and performance. Both albums express a view of life as well as a way of life through the... Read More
construction of sounds, some improvised and some deliberate and pre-considered. We may never know (and I am not sure it makes a difference) which sounds are which. All that really matters is the music itself.
Miles is a magician. When almost all of his contemporaries not only dismissed rock but R&B as somehow beneath their notice (for which read rival for geetz and gigs), Miles bought Sly Stone records and went to hear Jimi Hendrix. Anybody who doubts this doesn't have to ask Miles. He tells you all about it in his music. It's hard to be bar-by-bar specific about this, but the mood, the coloration, the sound, the particular rhythms juxtaposed against other rhythms from time to time evoke an immediate flash of Sly, as does the low, growling sound (which I suppose must come from one of the arcane rhythmic instruments Miles employs). When the latter appears, it sounds for one brief second (if you're away from the speaker or the volume is turned down a bit) just like the way Sly's voice sounds on "Spaced Cowboy."
Miles' album plays through almost without a pause even though the tracks are separated by bands. The groove runs quickly across the band or else the music continues into and out of it, I simply can't tell. In any case, the music is laid out there for you as an integral whole, not a series of individual compositions arbitrarily selected and juxtaposed. They fit, like the movement of a long, planned work, and Miles plays them in this manner as well.
Throughout the album, there is extensive use of a variety of rhythmic sounds. Shakers, claves, cowbells, weird and exotic drums, wetted thumbs drawn across tight-skin drumheads, anything traditional or invented which could make a sound that seemed to Miles to fit. Electronics include keyboards, guitar and a device on Miles' horn. Despite the fact that the sound of Miles' trumpet is heard less on this album than perhaps on any of his others, the totality of the music is possibly under even greater control. He wrote all the compositions and, I believe, personally edited and overdubbed or whatever else was done in the studio to produce the multiplex recording in which polyrhythms play such an important part.
In spite of the separation into tracks and the titling of them, I am inclined to think that one will not play excerpts from this album unless Columbia slices a single out of it (which could be the final track, "Mr. Free