Friday, June 20, 2014

Miles after 1975

Miles Davis in 1989
Photograph: Rex Features

I am coming to the end of my chronological listening project of Miles Davis. Astute watchers of this list may notice that I am stopping at 1975. Yep. While undoubtedly Miles did some great playing after his hiatus in the late '70s, I just find the overwhelming majority of his work in the '80s depressing and frustrating. There are some bright moments, certainly, and I may listen to some of them again. I've got a live recording from 1987 in Boston where the band kicks it and Miles is in great form. But the cheesy keyboards, the tune selection, the weaker soloing of his bandmates, and the overall feel of his later work is a bummer to me, especially after the heights he scaled with the '73-'75 bands. And I'm sorry, but his choice of cover material just doesn't cut it for me. "Human Nature" and "Time after Time" just don't have the resonance or heft to sustain great jazz the way the standards and Broadway cover tunes of the '50s and '60s did.  So for my next chronological listening projects, I am stopping at 1975 Miles and moving on to greener pastures: Roscoe Mitchell, then Coltrane, then Sun Ra. This plus my ongoing fascination with and discovery of AMM, as well as my deep dive into the UYA archives (more on that later) should keep me intellectually stimulated for a while. Think I'm making a mistake? Are there truly great Miles moments from the '80s that I'm missing out on? Don't say "Jean Pierre."

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