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Issue 1099

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Review

Miles Davis: Merci Miles! Live At Vienne (Rhino Records)

Miles Davis Merci Miles! Live At Vienne (Rhino Records) REVIEW @bluesandsoul.com

9

5.8

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UK release date 25.06.2021

It's always a special occasion when stuff gets released posthumously from one of the jazz giants of all time and this is no exception. This is a crystallisation of five decades of musical evolution. Davis had found ways of merging jazz with classical ideas and later R&B, rock and funk, producing a hybrid monster that shaped the course of popular music and had come to define his legacy.

In 1985, he’d left Columbia after thirty years to sign to Warner Bros. Records, a label riding high with best-selling artists like Madonna, Van Halen and Prince, with whom he had a mutual admiration and friendship and it's all apparent as (the sex-obsessed) Prince contributes two scintillating tracks here “Penetration” and “Jailbait”!

As with all of the purple one's tunes the bassline is central to the piece and Miles' core rhythm section (RIP drummer Ricky Wellman) nail the groove, as his trademark mute flits delicately between the cracks and Kenny Garratt's stinging alto sax only adds extra spice to the melodrama. Spanish sounding “Human Nature” sees our most celebrated trumpet return to flashes of brilliance circa “Sketches Of Spain”, it's a slow-burning motoric piece that explodes into a slap jazz-funk maelstrom at the end, again aided and abetted by the great Kenny Garratt.

Perhaps Cindy Lauper's “Time After Time” is his most popular tune of this era and Miles is at his most elegiac on what turned out to be his last live performance. What you can glean from this historic gig is Miles always surrounded himself with the best possible musicians he could find so just think who went through his ranks! Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, John Mclaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Paul Scofield, Robben Ford and many more… This is a snapshot of futuristic Miles, thankfully caught in time and is a bit special, to say the least...
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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