When he released "Bitches Brew" in 1970, Miles Davis opened up a new angle to jazz which stirred up emotions like no other record before. Some critics accused Davis of selling out, while the public bought it like crazy. It is one of the most examined albums of all time, even garnering a box set of the sessions. To date, "Bitches Brew" is one of the top selling jazz albums of all time. "Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue" examines the next step in the creative process…performing these songs live. The 1970 Isle of Wight featured an array of performers from The Who to Jethro Tull to Joni Mitchell. With improvisation playing a big role in the performance, the band (Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Gary Bartz and Dave Holland) had to be "on", yet ready to change on the fly. Directed by award-winning producer Murray Lerner, "Miles Electric" sits down with several of the performers who played with Miles, interspersed with his 1970 Isle of Wight performance, as well as artists such as Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell, who describe the impact Miles Davis had towards music.
The first of a five-volume CD series released by the European Classics label that reissues all of the recordings led by trumpeter Red Allen during 1929-41 is one of the best. The great trumpeter is first heard fronting the Luis Russell Orchestra for such classics as "It Should Be You" and "Biff'ly Blues," he interacts with blues singer Victoria Spivey, and on the selections from 1933 (two of which were previously unreleased) he co-leads a group with tenor-saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. Not all of the performances are gems but there are many memorable selections including "How Do They Do It That Way," "Pleasin' Paul," "Sugar Hill Function,," and "Patrol Wagon Blues." Other soloists include trombonists J.C. Higginbottham and Dicky Wells, clarinetist Albert Nicholas and altoist Charlie Holmes.
During the period covered by this second of four Classics CDs, Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra was at the peak of its powers, dominating the jazz scene of the Midwest. There were not a lot of famous names in the group yet, but the soloists were colorful, and the band's ensembles could really rock in a pre-swing manner. The main players at the time included cornetist Ed Lewis, Harlan Leonard on various reeds, baritonist Jack Washington and Moten himself on piano. Highlights include "Moten Stomp," "Kansas City Breakdown," "Get Low-Down Blues," "Terrific Blues" and the remake of the band's hit "South."
By 1929, Red Nichols had been active as a recording artist for nearly eight years. He had been making a name for himself as a leader since 1925, usually in the company of a superhuman trombonist by the name of Miff Mole. While some folks might focus upon the presence of Jimmy Dorsey, seasoned early jazz addicts will also cherish the opportunity to commune with the spirits of Miff Mole, Vic Berton and Arthur Schutt. The first three selections reveal what these men were able to accomplish under optimal conditions,( i.e. without vocals or violins). The band is wonderful, especially when Adrian Rollini introduces "Allah's Holiday" with the bass saxophone or takes a weird solo during "Roses of Picardy" using an ebonite tube full of holes with a clarinet mouthpiece stuck in the end of it…
The main change for the Duke Ellington Orchestra during this period was that the increasingly unreliable Bubber Miley (an alcoholic) was fired by Ellington in January 1929 and quickly replaced by Cootie Williams. Otherwise, the personnel was stable, featuring trombonist Joe Tricky Sam Nanton, altoist Johnny Hodges, and clarinetist Barney Bigard as key soloists along with trumpeters Miley, Arthur Whetsol, and Freddie Jenkins. Most of the selections from this era border on the classic, with highlights including Miley's spot on "Bandanna Babies," "I Must Have That Man," "Harlemania," and a two-part version of "Tiger Rag."