German Import (although the price tag on my jewel case is listed in Polish złoty, so who knows)
Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced CD.
After 30+ years on the Columbia label, Miles signed a huge deal with Warner Bros., teamed up with writer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller and produced this overlooked gem. Critics generally hated it at the time, but nobody really understood what Miles was trying to accomplish when he was pushing the envelope, which he did often. Critics later came around; when everybody else catches up to a pioneer, it becomes easier to appreciate the work of the pioneer. I make no claim of understanding Davis' aims, but to me, this album sounds like an attempt at recapturing and updating what he did on In A Silent Way, focusing on improvising over a good groove with melody relegated to the back seat (Christgau compared it more to Sketches of Spain; close enough). Most of the efforts were written and performed mainly by Miller (bass, guitar, synths, drum machine programming, bass clarinet, soprano sax) and the collection of material here is better than anything else Davis had put out in the previous ten years. If you want to understand the totality of Davis' career arc, this album should be on the required listening list of his latter years, along with The Hot Spot Soundtrack.
The album won two Grammy awards: Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist for Miles and Best Album Package for art director Eiko Ishioka.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #141
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #61
Tracks: When I first purchased this album in the '80s, I only liked the unlikely cover of Scritti Politti's Perfect Way. I still like that one a lot, but now I can appreciate other funk groove tunes like the title track, Tomaas, Splatch, and Full Nelson. I don't particularly care for track 7, Don't Lose Your Mind, but I gotta hand it to Miles - not many people would put electric violin, bass clarinet, and synth orchestra hits into a reggae jam.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This album reminds me of a girl I had a brief, cyclonic relationship with around the time of this album release. Let's just say this girl was a few fries short of a Happy Meal. If I was having a hard time interpreting what Miles was doing here, she didn't stand a chance of figuring it out.
Previously revisited for the blog:
At Newport 1958 (2001)
Panthalassa: The Remixes (1999)
The Complete Birth of the Cool (1998)
This Is Jazz, Vol. 8: Miles Davis Acoustic (1996)
Live Around The World (1996)
The Hot Spot: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1990)
Music from Siesta (1987)
In A Silent Way (1969)
Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall (1961)
Sketches of Spain (1960)
Kind Of Blue (1959)
'Round About Midnight (1957)