He’s been gone for 15 years, but that’s not stopping Miles Davis from having a crazy busy 2006. The King of Cool is celebrating his 80th year with lots of CD releases, a book, a DVD, a Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction and talks of a biopic (starring Don Cheadle, so you know it’ll be good). The AP tells us that the man’s sales haven’t slowed down a bit in the 15 years since his death, but that’s only logical. Whether it’s late-Bird bebop, orchestral Gershwin reinventions (ala Porgy & Bess) or pioneering rock-funk exploration, it’s all there with Miles.
I started predictably with Kind of Blue, but that’s just where you start. It wasn’t long before I was wearing grooves into Bitches Brew, Birth of the Cool and Sketches of Spain. And the life changer was Highlights From the Plugged Nickel, an astonishing concert recording featuring his peaking Second Great Quintet (with Wayne Shorter on sax, Ron Carter on bass, Herbie Hancock on ivories and Tony fuckin’ Williams on drums). Plug that thing in, trip out to Tony’s ride patterns, Wayne’s hummingbird-like linear zig-zags and Herbie’s quintessential comping. Miles just had to add color and steer the ship. And that’s just “Milestones!” The record highlights one of Davis’s most underrated talents: assembling the greatest musicians possible to actualize a sound.
You into the King of Cool? Partial to one of his quintets? Have a favorite album? Stereogum’s just glad to see him alive and well, even if it is just in spirit. And his pimptastic fashion sense.