I listen to this band, and specifically this record, whenever I crave inspiration. To listen to it closely is to be guided into the same level of absorption, the same deep state of flow that the musicians are in while they are playing. Miles and his band are like ninjas: engaged, razor sharp, almost impossibly dynamic, and at the same time they are slow, patient explorers, space cadets. Mademoiselle Mabry is a good example of what I’m talking about. For most of this 13 minute masterpiece, is Tony Williams playing the damn timpanis back there? And then these moments of extreme precision – POW! – he wakes up the band, and then goes back to floating in space.
It was recorded in 1968 and still sounds fresher, more futuristic than anything you hear these days. In fact the only downside of listening to this record is that anything you listen to directly after will sound trivial, like circus music.
It was the record that came just before the Bitches Brew era, which I also love, but this record represents some kind of apotheosis of jazz, and maybe even a kind of apotheosis of music in general? IMO obviously, haha. It was a moment when Miles had so much cultural relevance – he was a superstar – and he used that position to make music that was at once challenging/”high art”, and still bluesy, identifiable. It’s so classy and yet so hard. It’s the same thing you get in Sign o’ The Times by Prince, or in modern rap’s best moments. Class for masses.
SUUNS‘ new album The Witness is out on September 3 via Joyful Noise.