The return of the electric Miles and the 80s on #neuguitars #blog #MilesDavis
Why talk about Miles Davis in a blog dedicated to experimental, avant-garde and contemporary guitar music? Iconic character, innovator, forerunner of musical trends, Davis has always been a forerunner, an artistic antenna sensitive to social and cultural changes, capable of anticipating, refusing to embody consolidated and stereotyped roles. This exceptional box of three CDs, “Miles Davis The Bootleg Seeries Vol. 7”, dedicated to his most “pop” period, between 1982 and 1985, shows us a Miles particularly attentive to the use of the electric guitar, in the company of three giants like Mike Stern, John Scofield and John McLaughlin.
I think it is appropriate to do a little history first. Since the early 2000s, a team of Sony producers had started the recovery of unreleased, live and complete studio recordings never heard before by Miles Davis, especially from the post ‘Bitches Brew’ period, the ‘electric breakthrough’. This series of full-bodied boxes was called ‘Miles Davis – The Bootleg Series’, a title that was certainly interesting from a commercial point of view, but also misleading, since most of them were official recordings, professionally made and discarded only because of the format record and overabundance of Davis production.
The first cd features mostly studio recordings from the sessions of ‘Star People’ (1983), an album that marked Miles’s return to the scene, together with the previous 1981 ‘The Man with a Horn’. In 1975, after more than 30 years of making music of the highest artistry, Miles retired from music. The official excuses were ill health and a severe nervous breakdown. A dark period in his life, which saw him busy with a deadly mix of sex, cocaine, cognac and drugs. These music marked his return to Earth, ready to make up for lost time. Alongside the trumpeter, who also indulges in some sorties on keyboards, are John Scofield and Mike Stern on guitars, J.J Johnson on trombone, Bill Evans on tenor and soprano saxes, Marcus Miller on electric bass, Mino CInelu on percussion and Al Foster on drums . At the console the deus ex machina Teo Macero.
The CD also contains two songs in which Miles lent himself as producer of a group that included Scofield, Darryl Jones, Robert Irving III (electronics) and Mino Cinelu. The pieces come from a personal tape of Scofield, made available for the occasion. The second CD comes from 1985, from the sessions of “You are under arrest!”. where in addition to a Scofield in a true state of grace, Jones and Foster, Bob Berg on sax, Robert Irving III on keyboards, Vince Wilburn Jr and Steve Thornton on percussion and drum machine, and in one song makes his appearance the great John McLaughlin.
It’s the pop moment, par excellence, where Davis takes control of ‘Time after Time’, ‘What’s Love got to do with it’ and ‘Human Nature’ blowing Cindy Lauper, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson, turning them into new standards and giving them a new life. The third CD includes an entire live concert played in Montreal in 1983, with Davis in the company of Scofield, Evans, Jones, Foster and Cinelu, and alone would be worth the purchase of this exceptional box set. Truly a wonderful Christmas treat. At the time this music was objected to by old Davis fans. The charge was apostasy. Miles was branded a heretic for intertwining the threads of jazz with those of funk and pop. For having abandoned a traced and safe road, for having once again denied his artistic coherence.
Good Miles got over these accusations, continuing on his way. Listening to this music we realize the innovative role that he had assigned to the electric guitar. No longer used as an accompanying instrument, Davis gave the jazz guitar a new consecration, defining it as an instrument in the fullest sense, also freeing it from rock fashions. All the guitarists featured in this box are, in their own way, three masters of style and innovators, and have been able to raise the guitar language without denying its popular nature. I believe that the greatness of this music consists precisely in this: grafting languages into new forms, rereading and rejuvenating rock and jazz stereotypes, generating a new functional synthesis to anticipate the inevitable changes in society. Mike Stern, John Scofield and John Mclaughlin were able to create independent careers, pursuing their styles and leaving a deep mark on the history of the guitar, but it was Miles Davis who showed the way, proving that one could be daring, that conventions , especially musical ones, could be broken. Long live Miles!