Amazing! There have been a number of Miles Davis tribute recordings released over the years, covering various periods of his storied career; both with and without alumni of his numerous bands and configurations. I’m pretty sure that I own most of them but this one, organized and led by producer Bob Belden, covering songs from Miles’ controversial first forays into fusion via electricity, is just amazing.
If you can get your head around the opening track, “Spanish Key” from Bitches Brew with tabla, soaring flute and konnakol (Indian vocalization), then you’ll be in for a sub-continental treat. Belden and the musicians he’s assembled – American, Indian and alumni of Davis’ bands – take 12 songs, all but one of which are associated with Davis, and interpret them as if Miles donned a Nehru Jacket.
Traditional Western instrumentation meets Indian ideals; complementing sitar, electric mandolin, flute, tabla, konnakol and a whole host of Indian drums and percussion are; Dave Liebman and Gary Bartz on sax, Mike Stern, John McLaughlin and Pete Cosey on guitar, Marcus Miller, Ron Carter, Michael Henderson and Benny Rietveld on bass, Chick Corea, Adam Holzman and Robert Irving III on keys, Ndugu, Lenny White, Vince Wilburn and Badal Roy on drums – all alumni, complemented by the great Wallace Roney on trumpet.
To hear “All Blues” open with sitar or “So What” open with konnakol is both amazing and liberating at the same time. If you’re a fan of Miles, especially his early electric and later periods, you’re going to be blown away by this recording. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this recording since I downloaded it.
Call me star-struck, but this just might be the best release I’ve heard thus far in 2008.