Monday, May 20, 2013

Miles Davis - Nefertiti


Nefertiti, the fourth album by Miles Davis' second classic quintet, continues the forward motion of Sorcerer, as the group settles into a low-key, exploratory groove, offering music with recognizable themes -- but themes that were deliberately dissonant, slightly unsettling even as they burrowed their way into the consciousness. In a sense, this is mood music, since, like on much of Sorcerer, the individual parts mesh in unpredictable ways, creating evocative, floating soundscapes. This music anticipates the free-fall, impressionistic work of In a Silent Way, yet it remains rooted in hard bop, particularly when the tempo is a bit sprightly, as on "Hand Jive." Yet even when the instrumentalists and soloists are placed in the foreground -- such as Miles' extended opening solo on "Madness" or Hancock's long solo toward the end of the piece -- this never feels like showcases for virtuosity, the way some showboating hard bop can, though each player shines. What's impressive, like on all of this quintet's sessions, is the interplay, how the musicians follow an unpredictable path as a unit, turning in music that is always searching, always provocative, and never boring. Perhaps Nefertiti's charms are a little more subtle than those of its predecessors, but that makes it intriguing. Besides, this album so clearly points the way to fusion, while remaining acoustic, that it may force listeners on either side of the fence into another direction. - by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

This album is definitely one of the more progressive Miles Davis efforts. It was the last "straight-ahead" jazz album he made before experimenting with electric bass and keyboards in his rhythm section on Miles In The Sky and Filles De Killemanjaro (both released the following year, in 1968). Nefertiti showcases Wayne Shorter's great compositions once again, and Herbie Hancock also contributes a couple pieces. Tony Williams also composed a piece. This album is painfully under-appreciated compared to Miles Davis's other classic releases, although all the real Miles listeners know about Nefertiti. Every track is pulsed by Ron Carter's exquisite basslines and the drumming battery of Tony Williams. "Nefertiti", a Shorter composition, has the melody repeated for about seven and a half minutes, but it's repeated in a different way each time. The moods of the piece change distinctively throughout. There are no solos, and the hypnotic melody will get to you over time. "Fall" is a mysterious, lilting ballad which comes out to be a true gem. Another piece by Wayne Shorter, the abstract setting makes the piece sound like it could speed up at any second, but it remains a beautiful, slow piece. Miles and Wayne both take excellent solos here, and Herbie takes a nice solo here as well showing how much he has grown as a musician. "Hand Jive" is a Tony Williams piece, and Miles takes a solo full of cool ideas and his usual sweet sound on the trumpet. Everyone gets a chance to really stretch out on this track. In fact, it wouldn't really sound out of place on Miles Smiles, a Miles album made the previous year. "Madness" has more of a straight feel, although there are still many tempo changes, especially in Herbie's piano solo. Here, Miles really gets into his solo and shines brightly. The theme is cool, almost sounding like a play on horror movie, but it's in a playful manner. "Riot" is a piece Herbie Hancock recorded outside of Miles's group and is being remade here. Everyone takes a relatively short solo on this track, which almost gives the listener a bit of a break from the previous four pieces, which are all pretty long. "Pinocchio", is my favorite track on the album though. The theme is so cool, it almost sounds like a voice. The whole piece has a timeless, energetic feel to it. The theme stays stuck in my head for a while, and this is the only track on the album I will put on repeat for a long period of time, except for maybe "Fall". Miles and Wayne both take awesome solos and Herbie makes a great contribution as well. Tony Williams adds the real fire behind this tune with his great, percussive drumming. Usually my favorite track on an album is not the last one, so this is yet another unusual aspect of Nefertiti. Overall, this is a great album for any Miles Davis fan. Every single track is amazing. Not the type of album you would call a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, I have a digitally remastered version but I don't have the one Amazon[.com] has here. Mine is just the original: six beautiful tracks. I will have to check out this new version with alternate takes although I recommend the original version if you can find it just for the ability to hear the album the way Miles originally intended for it to be released. An outstanding album, get it! - by Mr. Hip-Hop, Amazon.com

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Nefertiti
Year: 1967
Label: CBS
Runtime: 48:03

Tracks:
1.  Nefertiti (Wayne Shorter) 7:52
2.  Fall (Wayne Shorter) 6:37
3.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:56
4.  Hand Jive (Tony Williams) 8:55
5.  Madness (Herbie Hancock) 7:32
6.  Riot (Herbie Hancock) 3:06
7.  Pinocchio (Wayne Shorter) 5:05

Personnel:
Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Wayne Shorter (Tenor Saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (Piano)
Ron Carter (Double Bass)
Tony Williams (Drums)

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