Miles Smiles


Miles Smiles
Miles Smiles
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released January 1967
Recorded October 24–October 25, 1966
Columbia 30th Street Studio
(New York, New York)
Genre Jazz, post-bop
Length 41:44
Label Columbia
CS–9401
Producer Teo Macero
Miles Davis chronology
E.S.P.
(1965)
Miles Smiles
(1967)
Sorcerer
(1967)

Miles Smiles is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis, released in January 1967 on Columbia Records. It was recorded by Davis and his second quintet at Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City on October 24 and October 25, 1966.[1] It is the second of five albums recorded by Davis's second quintet, which featured saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams.[1]

Contents

Music

On three tracks from this album ("Orbits", "Dolores", "Gingerbread Boy"), pianist Herbie Hancock takes the unusual step of dispensing with left-hand chords and playing only right-hand lines.

Somewhat unusually for this group, the album includes two compositions not written by members of the group. Both are treated far more freely and loosely than the original versions. In addition, an earlier and more conservative recording of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" appears on his album Adam's Apple. The contribution from drummer Tony Williams on this album feels especially free, both rhythmically and improvisationally. On "Footprints", we hear his trademark polyrhythmic approach: the piece begins with Ron Carter's repeated bass line played in 6/4 time. Tony Williams initially plays within the 6/4 feel; however, during Miles's first solo, Tony shifts to a 4/4 jazz ride pattern while Ron Carter continues the 6/4 bass line.

Three of the album's compositions are known to have made it to Davis's live "book". "Dolores" is known from a single recording in the spring of 1967. "Gingerbread Boy" and "Footprints" were played much more frequently. "Gingerbread Boy" was played as late as the summer of 1969; "Footprints" appears on unofficial live recordings from the Fillmore West in April 1970. Early live versions of "Gingerbread Boy" (from the spring and summer of 1966) retained the melody of Heath's original version. The melody on the studio version is somewhat different (presumably changed by Davis), and ensuing versions often retain this change.

Reception

Initial reaction

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[2]
CODA (favorable)[3]
Down Beat 4.5/5 stars[1]
Musician (favorable)[1]
Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars[4]
Q 4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[5]
Saturday Review (favorable)[6]
Stereo Review (favorable)[7]
Time (favorable)[8]

Miles Smiles received general acclaim from jazz critics upon its release, receiving praise for its original compositions, the quintet's chemistry and playing, and Davis's phrasing.[3][6][7][9] CODA editor John Norris praised the quintet's "mastery of sensitive interaction" and wrote that they "must be one of the most beautifully integrated groups ever to play jazz".[3] Norris noted that "Every man is listening intently at all times, responding sensitively to mutual hints and directions", and stated "The empathy between Carter, Williams and Hancock, the way they anticipate each other, push each other, support each other, and phrase together - all this without a sign of strain - is really amazing".[3] He cited the Davis-penned "Circle" as the album's highlight and wrote that the composition "defines the excellence of the group... a masterpiece".[3] Nat Hentoff of Stereo Review called Tony Williams and Ron Carter "prodigious technicians and restless", while noting "Though tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter does not quite reach the incandescent performance level attained by his colleagues, he is inspired by them to deliver some of his most inventive playing on records so far".[7] Hentoff cited the quintet as Davis's "most stimulating rhythm team so far" and concluded with a discource on its potential significance, writing that:

[Miles Smiles] is certain to remain an important part of the Davis discography, both for the trumpeter's persistent brilliance and for the lesson by Williams and Carter in how the functions — and the dynamic range — of the jazz rhythm section are being explored and changed.[7]
—Nat Hentoff

Martin Williams, writing for the Saturday Review, called it "an exceptional recital, Davis's best album in some time, and clear evidence of his continuing dedication as an improvising musician", while stating that it is "directly in the tradition of the 'experimental' Davis recordings, the tradition established by Kind of Blue in 1959—an album whose implications jazz musicians are still exploring—and continued by ESP of 1965—an album which seemed to me much less successful".[6] Williams viewed each player as in their best form, particularly Williams and Carter, noting "their superb contributions are beyond the words I could muster for so brief an account as this one".[6] Time similarly complimented both musicians and stated "Williams expertly helps build the mood and [Carter] has a sure feel for the note that underlines the swirl of chords".[8]

Retrospect

Upon its 1992 CD reissue, Q magazine gave the album four out of five stars and called it "essential...one of the quintet's best albums" and cited "Footprints" and "Dolores" as "all-time great jazz compositions".[1] Musician cited Miles Smiles as one of "the great quintet albums" and wrote that it "has lost none of its cutting edge [...] Has any band ever grooved harder than Miles and company do on `Orbits,' `Dolores' or `Gingerbread Boy'—and has Miles ever penned a more touching ballad than `Circle'?".[1] Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album five out of five stars and praised the quintet's compositions as "memorable, yet open-ended and nervy, setting (and creating) standards for modern bop that were emulated well into the new century".[2] Erlewine viewed that the quintet "really began to hit their stride, delving deeper into the more adventurous, exploratory side of their signature sound. [...] all their strengths are in full bloom", and elaborated on the music's accessibility, stating:

[I]t's not just the fast, manic material that has an edge — slower, quieter numbers are mercurial, not just in how they shift melodies and chords, but how the voicing and phrasing never settles into a comfortable groove. This is music that demands attention, never taking predictable paths or easy choices. Its greatest triumph is that it masks this adventurousness within music that is warm and accessible — it just never acts that way. No matter how accessible this is, what's so utterly brilliant about it is that the group never brings it forth to the audience. They're playing for each other, pushing and prodding each other in an effort to discover new territory. As such, this crackles with vitality, sounding fresh decades after its release.[2]
—Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Giving it four-and-a-half out of five stars, Down Beat complimented its "simpler, drier, more austere sound" and stated "the unrehearsed, rough Miles Smiles holds up so well simply because it was more of a jazz record [...] Davis' exquisite waltz, `Circle,' showcases his lyrical, muted-trumpet playing".[1]

Track listing

Side one

  1. "Orbits" (Wayne Shorter) - 4:37
  2. "Circle" (Miles Davis) - 5:52
  3. "Footprints" (Wayne Shorter) - 9:46

Side two

  1. "Dolores" (Wayne Shorter) - 6:20
  2. "Freedom Jazz Dance" (Eddie Harris) - 7:13
  3. "Gingerbread Boy" (Jimmy Heath) - 7:43

Personnel

Musicians

Production

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Product Page: Miles Smiles. Muze. Retrieved on 2010-11-03.
  2. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (November 1, 2001). Review: Miles Smiles. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-11-03.
  3. ^ a b c d e Norris, John (1967). "Review: Miles Smiles". CODA: volume 8. 16–17.
  4. ^ Cook, Richard. "Review: Miles Smiles". The Penguin Guide to Jazz: 376. September 2002.
  5. ^ Hoard, Christian (November 1, 2004). "Review: Miles Smiles". Rolling Stone: 214, 217.
  6. ^ a b c d Williams, Martin (1967). "Review: Miles Smiles". Saturday Review: volume 50. 187.
  7. ^ a b c d Hentoff, Nat (1967). "Review: Miles Smiles". Stereo Review: volume 18. 61–62.
  8. ^ a b Columnist (April 21, 1967). Review: Miles Smiles. Time. Retrieved on 2010-11-03.
  9. ^ Baraka, Imamu Amiri (1967). "Review: Miles Smiles". Down Beat: volume 34. 61.

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