Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Cellar Door Sessions... Again!

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970


MILES DAVIS; trumpet
GARY BARTZ; soprano sax, alto sax
KEITH JARRETT; electric piano, piano, organ
MICHAEL HENDERSON; electric bass
AIRTO MOREIRA; percussion

I know i've blogged about this before (here) but i was listening to it again and was blown away again by how good the music is here.

Miles' electric music was often heavily mixed - much of the success of albums like 'In A Silent Way', 'Bitches Brew' and 'Jack Johnson' was down to the inspired editing of producer Teo Macero. The musicians would head into the studio, jam in an often directionless way for a few hours, then Teo and Miles would get to work selecting the best passages and cutting them together. A real example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, as can be seen from the sometimes poor quality of the music on the 'Complete In A Silent Way Sessions' and 'Complete Bitches Brew Sessions' sets.

So the listener never had the chance to hear a real Davis electric band at work on some of his more memorable themes of the period. 'Live-Evil' went some way towards alleviating this but it too was heavily edited. Here, though, are six discs of a sextet/septet working out in a live setting with Teo twiddling the knobs but doing precious little else.

And the results are amazing, with real energy in the playing and some radically different versions of well known Davis tunes. The band are pretty much perfect here - Bartz has a lightness of tone that outshone Wayne Shorter, in my opinion, making him a perfect counterpoint to the often darkly heavy grooves of Henderson and DeJohnette, two players with that uncanny ability to drive and invent simultaneously. Jarrett is more in the front-line mode of Herbie Hancock than a simple rhythm player, and is consistently entertaining.

It's a great set. I suspect it might be coming out again in the coming weeks...

Good link - Miles Beyond - tells you pretty much everything there is to know about electric era Miles.

PS Have a listen to 'What I Say' on the radio player. It sounds very familiar - I think someone might have sampled the bassline. I'm not sure, but I think it might have been the Prodigy. Let me know if you can spot who it was.

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