Next Generation Jazz Artists on Their Best Moments Davis | Characteristics

A novelty Miles Davis record – abandoned more than three decades ago – is finally out.

“Rubberband” was recorded in 1985 and was to mark Davis’ first album with Warner Bros. Records after leaving Columbia.

Recorded with producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles, it was also an attempt to push the boundaries of jazz even further, incorporating more funk and soul sounds.

Despite its completion, the project ended up being shelved while Davis worked on the 1986 record “Tutu” instead..

But now the wait is over and “Rubberband” is here in its entirety, so in honor of the release, Clash asked five next-gen jazz artists to tell us about their favorite Miles Davis moments…

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Ashley Henry // Miles Davis ‘ESP’ (1965)

For me, ‘ESP’ has got to be one of my favorite Miles records. With the addition of Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, the band feels truly complete – joining the supergroup with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter and Miles himself… Miles and the rhythm section had already been playing intensely together for a a few years so the musicality is already there, but with the arrival of Wayne Shorter’s compositions (‘Iris’, ‘ESP’) the sound of the second great quintet was born!

A great bandleader/composer really knows how to write for each member of the band, to really express themselves creatively and bring the music to life. This record definitely reflects that and marks the start of something truly special that will be talked about for years to come. As a bandleader/composer I always find myself coming back to these records, you always learn and hear different things as you grow and develop as a musician and writer.

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Bryony Jarman-Pinto // ‘Bitches Brew’ (1970)

What brought me to Miles Davis’ 1970 “Bitches Brew” record was Mati Klarwein’s album cover. It had been lovingly framed and hung on my sister and brother-in-law’s living room wall, and I fell in love with the gatefold. At the time I was in my third year of painting and printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art and this launched me into a short study of spiritual symbolism in paintings. Surprisingly, I couldn’t listen to the album right away, it took me a while to hear it and even more to appreciate it.

I don’t think you can listen to this album while your focus is elsewhere, it won’t let you. There is so much movement and travel that you are drawn in and have to absorb the music. You can’t anticipate it, so every rhythm and improvised idea attracts attention. It sounds tiring but it’s not, the music encourages imagination and meditation. You just have to listen to it, let yourself be lulled by each sound and experiment, then withdraw and live on. It’s energizing.

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Dylan Jones // ‘Cookin’ at Plugged Nickel 1965′ (1995)

I’ve been listening to Miles since I was about 10 and throughout that time there’s one album that stuck with me – Miles Davis “Cookin’ at the Plugged Nickel”. First, it’s a live concert, recorded in Chicago in 1965, so the album has a certain energy that you wouldn’t get from a studio recording. I also like the rawness of this album; there are unnecessary amounts of reverb on the trumpet and sax which are retained – you can also hear the drum and people talking (loudly) in the club which creates an authentic atmosphere.

I heard Miles had the flu for this gig, or maybe he was at a time in his career where he wasn’t training much. Either way, his technique is all over the place, which fascinates and inspires me because he makes it look natural and intentional. This influences my playing, as I love trying to own the cracks, bumps and brutality of the trumpet and accepting the fact that you can be creative and perfectly musical even if your technique isn’t quite right.

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Louis Cole // “In a Silent Way” (1969)

There are so many deep Miles Davis albums for me. Between the live Fillmore, Jack DeJohnette [Davis’ drummer] the madness and next-level arrangements of Gil Evans. But the album that goes deepest for me is the complete “In A Silent Way” sessions. The feeling of the album can’t really be described…it’s too magical. But it’s like this warm dark blue combination of acoustic and electric instruments played by some of the greatest musicians of all time.

It’s quite loose and improvised. Slow tracks like the bossa nova version of ‘In A Silent Way (Rehearsal)’ and ‘Mademoiselle Mabry’ and ‘Ascent’ are wonderful. And “It’s About That Time” is still one of the greatest bass riffs and chord progressions I’ve ever heard. Tony Williams also destroys ‘Splash’ and ‘Dual Mr. Tillmon Anthony’ with some turbo boogaloo grooves. Overall, really, just a deeply unique album/era that I haven’t heard anywhere else.

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Joe Louis Pink Salami // “Live – Evil” (1971)

It’s hard to decide, but my favorite album would have to be 1971’s ‘Live – Evil’. This album has such a palpable and moving level of magic and synchronicity. You feel as if the energy in the room as the musicians played was one of ultimate respect, listening and exploring together to the farthest reaches of their minds. I really enjoy how the live recordings feel loose and open for the musicians involved to develop ideas and explore.

Interwoven between long, creative live recordings are three studio recordings of renditions of songs by composer Hermeto Pascoal: ‘Little Church’, ‘Nem Um Talvez’ and ‘Selim’. These recordings are for me some of the most beautiful works, with such depth of harmony and texture. The way the sounds of the instruments in these songs blend together to create a mood is transporting. You can hear Hermeto’s vocals mixed in with Miles’ trumpet and several keyboard players, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and organist Keith Jarrett, blending their harmony to create this peaceful, otherworldly masterpiece,” Little Church”.

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“Rubberband” was released via Rhino/Warner Bros. Records now.

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Ada J. Kenney