Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Favorite Miles Davis Albums and Pieces

Hello there. Today we honor Miles Davis, one of the greatest musicians of the modern era and the jazz musician who takes up the most space on my hard drive. You go, Miles Davis!

Davis' proficiency on the trumpet is well documented; between his unbelievably vast discography as both a frontman and a sideman and all that has been written in praise of him over the past 70 years, very few people don't know who Mr. Davis is, and very few people don't love his music. Besides being extremely technically gifted, he pushed boundaries unlike any other jazz musician--or musician in general--this side of Coltrane or Coleman and still managed to sell a shit ton of records.

He was restless in his ideas; as soon as he had mastered one new form of jazz, he had to go invent or push forward another. Davis went through bebop, hard-bop, post-bop, fusion, free jazz and more throughout his career, putting his stamp on each subgenre. His music ranges from extremely beautiful to extremely bizarre, but when you listen to any of his music, you always know it's Miles Davis blowing that horn (or, in some instances, playing that organ).

So here's to you Miles Davis, the greatest trumpet player there ever was. (Below are my ten favorite Miles albums and twenty-five favorite Miles pieces. Keep in mind that as much Miles Davis music as I've heard and love, there is way more I haven't ever heard and thus won't be on these lists.)

1. Kind of Blue
It's the highest selling jazz album of all time and the gold standard for pre-1960 jazz. It's one of the finest stretches of recorded music, and it belongs nowhere other than #1.

2. Bitches Brew
His music hinted at insanity before, but Bitches Brew is where Miles completely let loose and began to fuse jazz with rock with funk with the avant-garde.

3. In A Silent Way
4. On The Corner
5. Get Up With It

6. Sketches of Spain
7. Live-Evil
8. A Tribute To Jack Johnson
9. Porgy and Bess
10. Seven Steps To Heaven

1. He Loved Him Madly
A previous song of the day and a dedication to Duke Ellington, "He Loved Him Madly" may not be Miles' most famous or most influential piece, but there's something about it and how absolutely nuts it is that makes it my favorite.

2. So What
This is just one of the most iconic pieces of modern music period. Everyone's heard "So What" and just about everyone loves it. It epitomizes jazz, and it epitomizes cool.

3. Bitches Brew
4. On The Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' Of One Thing and Doin' Another/Vote For Miles
5. Shhh/Peaceful

6. Sivad
7. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down
8. Summertime
9. Black Satin
10. Right Off

11. Mtume
12. Flamenco Sketches
13. Funky Tonk
14. Saeta
15. Pharaoh's Dance

16. Freddie Freeloader
17. In A Silent Way/It's About That Time
18. Yesternow
19. I Loves You, Porgy
20. Calypso Frelimo

21. John McLaughlin
22. Will O' The Wisp
23. Basin Street Blues
24. Motel (Diner Au Motel)
25. Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)

That's what I think. I'm certainly partial to his fusion stuff, but his entire discography deserves to be explored.

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