Of all Gil Evans' orchestral scores for soulmate Miles Davis, PORGY AND BESS is his richest and most ambitious–a watershed of modern jazz harmony which served to secure Davis' pop star stature and define his brooding mystique. Inevitably, even non-jazz listeners own a copy of PORGY AND BESS or SKETCHES OF SPAIN.
Like MILES AHEAD, Evans' band on PORGY AND BESS de-emphasized the traditional reed section in favor of a tuba, three French horns, two flutes and two saxophones. The resulting chords and overtones are dark, alluring and mysterious. Thus the opening brass-cymbal bluster of "The Buzzard Song" gives way to a mid-eastern carpet of flutes and deep brass as Davis' poignant trumpet speaks in split tones and yearning cadences, bursting with blues feeling; a tuba soon picks up the theme as muted trumpets are followed by tolling trombone/French horn chords.
Deluxe 71 disc box set that contains 52 single CD and double CD albums (which includes the previously unreleased full-length audio version of his 1970 Isle Of Wight performance). The essay is complemented by brief annotations written by Franck Bergerot, covering every single one of the 52 albums. The cornerstones of the box set are the studio and live albums that were released during his tenure at the label, more than 40 titles that he recorded in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s.
With the release of the spectral title tune, and the efforts of the Columbia marketing and publicity departments behind him, a thirty-year old Miles Davis entered into a period of extraordinary artistic maturity and growth. And Miles instinctively knew how to cultivate his star quality. Looming behind those shades, was the diffident, sensitive anti-hero–proud and defiant–who only spoke to his audience through his horn, and turned his back on them when the other soloists were blowing. The combination of attitude and intellect was irresistible. Beginning with ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT and proceeding through a remarkable succession of famous recordings over the next 30 years, Miles Davis became one of the greatest soloists, arrangers and talent scouts in the history of American music. People who didn't own a single jazz record came to know his name–Miles was a jazz icon.
For nearly half a century, Miles Davis (1926-1991) was arguably the preeminent innovator in jazz - rarely staying in the same place twice, experimenting with the most cutting-edge styles and ideas he could imagine. This year, some of Miles' most enduring works for Columbia Records are collected the way they were originally heard: MILES DAVIS: THE ORIGINAL MONO RECORDINGS. Each CD, newly remastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios, is housed in a mini-LP replica jacket, faithfully replicating the original LP sleeves. They are encased in a quality slipcase, alongside a 40-page booklet with rare photos and brand-new essay offering in-depth, first-hand accounts from George Avakian, who signed Miles to Columbia in 1955, AND play-by-play from mastering engineer Mark Wilder. This is the true genius of Miles Davis as most people first heard it, the way it was intended to be heard: in mono.
If I rate Get Up With It a five, or maybe Live/Evil, or Big Fun, or On the Corner, fives, or maybe even Sketches of Spain, a five, or Kind of Blue, then I guess this is a three and a half, or a four, so I give it a four, as if this were American Bandstand. But it's a Miles Davis record. If it's Miles or Coltrane, or, oh I don't know, Poulenc, perhaps people could "check themselves" just a bit. Man With the Horn is a fine record, a bridge in some ways, if you will, between some of the pre-electric Miles, as "jazz," and the psychedelic fusion, and then the later fusion funk. Man With the Horn is precious to me, and not enough people appreciate it, in my opinion.
"Tomes are available annotating the importance of this recording. The musical and social impact of Miles Davis, his collaborative efforts with Gil Evans, and in particular their reinvention of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess are indeed profound. However, the most efficient method of extricating the rhetoric and opining is to experience the recording…." ~AMG