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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MILES DAVIS

In Person
Friday and Saturday Night
at the Black Hawk

Not Now NOT2CD452

 

 

Friday Night
1. Walkin'
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. All Of You
4. No Blues
5. Bye Bye/The Theme
6. Love, I've Found You
 
Saturday Night
1. Well, You Needn't?
2. Fran-Dance?
3. So What
4. Oleo?
5. If I Were a Bell
6. Neo

Miles Davis - Trumpet
Hank Mobley - Tenor sax
Wynton Kelly - Piano
Paul Chambers - Bass
Jimmy Cobb - Drums

 

These tracks have been reissued so often, and in so many forms, that it is difficult to know exactly what you are getting. In fact this double CD only includes the contents of the original LPs, which were released in 1961, the year that they were recorded. Later versions contained as many as 13 extra tracks - enough to fill four CDs, with some tracks longer than on the LPs.
 
This was a historic recording in that it was the first time that Miles Davis's quintet was recorded playing live at a club. However, I don't share many critics' view that it was historic because of the high level of MIles's playing. Most of his solos seem to be struggling for ideas, with long gaps between phrases, and he commits too many fluffs to count. In contrast, Hank Mobley is not only fluent but also inventive in his tenor solos. Miles made some caustic remarks about the tenor player but technically Mobley outpaces Davis. And the rhythm section is as near-perfect as one could wish, with Wynton Kelly binding his colleagues' solos together with judicious accompaniment, while Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb provide a faultless engine-room.
 
The opening track Walkin' illustrates all these elements. Miles loses the beat in his introduction to the tune, and his solo is littered with phrases which seem to be marking time rather than making a statement. Wynton Kelly salvages some parts of Miles's solo with sympathetc punctuation. One feels much more secure when Mobley and then Kelly enter for their solos, and Paul Chambers' arco bass solo is virtuosic. Miles turns the coda into a mess.
 
Davis seems more settled in Bye Bye Blackbird but his intonation is problematical, and his fragmentary solo is as likely to result from poor technique as from choice. I could say the same about nearly every track in this collection. At times his trumpet tone is painfully shrill. Frankly I don't understand the uncritical stance which many critics adopt towards his playing. This emperor was wearing fewer clothes than many trendy reviewers imagine.
 
Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk

 



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