Saturday, February 11, 2006

so I've got mono....

yeah, so I've got mono and I have nothing better to do at 10:09 on a saturday morning than to blog. (not that its a bad thing, don't get me wrong, I should just be sleeping or something) anyway I decided to listen to Steamin', a great album by Miles Davis. This album was recorded in the mid 50's for prestige records after miles signed with columbia. Columbia realized what a money maker he could be so they signed him before his contract with prestige was even finished.

this album displays excellence in every medium of the music; we hear virtuostic, chord based solos by john coltrane and also the melodic, horizontal solos by miles in the ballads "something I dreamed last night" and "when I fall in love"


miles davis- trumpet
john coltrane- sax
red garland- piano
paul chambers-bass
philly joe jones-drums

the album begins with a tune called "sugar with the fringe on top" This 9 minute tune is typical miles in every sense: medium tempo, strong groove, very melodic melody, everything is just perfect. The comping between the drums and piano is amazing in this album, these players have been playing together for a while, you can really tell. The individuals all know when to change groove, when to build the soloist, which voicings and chords to use to compliment coltrane's note choices, when to react to the soloist .....all of this, true professionalism.

salt peanuts, a dizzy gillespie tune, should've been left alone to be played by dizzy. Although miles CAN play this type of music, ( he did watch dizzy and bird every night in the mid 40s to the point where he knew all of dizzys licks) I don't think that this is his style, or voice. it feels like he's faking, like the music isn't coming from his heart- the miles we all know and love. theres a great drum solo on here, the recording technology is way before its time.

something I dreamed last night- a great ballad highlighting miles' abilty for melodic excellence and harmon sound. coltrane doesn't solo on this track....thank god. I don't really like coltranes style of playing. don't get me wrong, hes great, a genious. I think he sometimes plays too mechanically, I would much rather listen to miles, maybe my mind's just not capable of catching all of what coltranes throwing at me, but I would say that it would take a very advanced listener to really get something out of listening to him. at this point in his life, he just doesn't have the capability to play a ballad and play it well with any sort of melodic interest.

diane- another typical miles tune, medium tempo, miles sounds great. 'nuff said.

well you needn't- a monk tune. coltrane sounds great on this tune. He and monk are a lot alike in the way they think about they music, monks choices of notes really complimented coltranes sound and vis versa. miles, on the other hand, is known for telling monk to not play during his solos, he didn't like the way his comping choices made him think. they were just never on the same page. here in this album, garland's sparse comping gives miles plenty of room to roam. this tune is more coltrane oriented, and as much as it pains me to say it, I think coltrane out-solos him on this one. I hate to use that term, out-solo, because I think they are two completely different people thinking in different ways, and really, what is music? is music a competition? no. they are both offering up their souls, so I don't think there is any one that out-solos another. so, oops, I take that back, I guess I just mean that of any of the tunes on this track, this one is suited more for coltranes voice than miles'.

my favorite- when I fall in love- this is one of my favorite ballads, my favorite on this album as well. Miles has been known to perform this in a lot of different ways, but I like this one a lot. its more straight forward and simple than many of his free versions. again, coltrane doesn't play on this, rather red garland does. I like his soloing; he solos more in chords than in horizontal lines. almost like he's not soloing at all, hes very subtle.

great album, again, I reccomend this to somewhat advanced listeners because the average joe wouldn't be able to enjoy all of the little pieces of conversation and soloist/comping reactions.

alright, time to go back to bed.



immahottie54niner said...

way to show me up with length,

rgable said...

While Coltrane solos can sound compulsive, I wouldn't call them mechanical since that implies a lack of passion. I was listening to Africa: Brass today and Trane's tone alone was captivating (as well as the backup orchestration). And although Miles was a better artist over a longer period of time, I'm less enamored of his solos especially in the Bitches Brew era. Just too fragmented and non-linear for my taste.

Good comment re: Monk/Coltrane being more compatible than Monk/Davis. Hadn't occurred to me.

Robert Gable