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           Lee Konitz's alto sax is particularly exquisite in his solos.


Quick links:

Lyrical collection from a genius: Jazzebel's review
of Miles Davis love songs

Miles Davis Acoustic: Jazzebel's review
of the This is Jazz album


Selections from a
master's fertile period


The Best of Miles Davis:
The Capitol/Blue Note Years
Virgin Records
Rs 125

The Best of Miles Davis comes to India 10 years after the master's death, but it gives you a relaxed trumpeter doing great solos

Miles Davis has a kind of popular appeal few modern jazz musicians have enjoyed, and many compilations of his work come out from time to time, both on CD and, in India, on cassette. So I can't say I'm completely surprised by this reissue as a cassette in India of an EMI/Capitol compilation CD. However, it's been slow off the mark: it's nearly a decade since the original CD compilation came out, shortly after his death in 1991, in fact.

The work here comes from 1949-1958, starting off with the experiments that led to "cool'' jazz and then to Davis's invention of modal music. Both these styles were more relaxed than be-bop and represented something of a reaction to its frenetic pace. Even at medium tempos, which most of the numbers here have, this relaxed feeling is fairly pronounced and is enhanced by reduced emphasis on the number of solos. For instance, on Move and Godchild, performed by a nonet in 1949, we get only Davis (trumpet) and Lee Konitz (alto sax) soloing on the former, and Davis, Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax) and Kai Winding (trombone) on the latter. Budo from the same session is brisker and has all these four as soloists, apart from Max Roach on drums. Lee Konitz's alto sax is particularly exquisite in his solos.

Another fast number, with a more be-bop treatment, is Tempus Fugit. It has great solos by Davis, Jimmy Heath (tenor sax) and J J Johnson (trombone), along with drum interludes by Art Blakey. It comes from a 1953 sextet recording, as does Enigma, a slower ballad-like piece with a piano solo thrown in. The next year gave us Well you needn't and It never entered my mind, played by a quartet that included Davis, Blakey and Horace Silver on piano, all of them sharing the solos.

Finally, two long pieces from a 1958 quintet session bring back the alto sax, this time in Cannonball Adderley's expressive hands. They are the longest and in some ways the most satisfying tracks on the album, with relaxed and extended interactions between trumpet, sax and piano making full use of the longer time format that had become standard with long-playing technology.


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