A previously unreleased Miles Davis record – shelved over three decades ago – has finally been released.
‘Rubberband’ was recorded back in 1985 and was meant to mark Davis’ first album with Warner Bros. Records after leaving Columbia.
Recorded with producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles, it was also an attempt to push the boundaries of jazz even further – folding in more funk and soul sounds.
Despite its completion, the project ended up being put to one side while Davis worked on 1986 record ‘Tutu’ instead.
But now the wait is over and ‘Rubberband’ is here in its entirety, so in honour of the release Clash got five new gen jazz artists to talk us through their favourite Miles Davis moments…
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Ashley Henry // Miles Davis ‘E.S.P’ (1965)
For me, ‘E.S.P’ has to be one of my favourite Miles record. With the addition of Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, it really makes the band feel complete - joining the super group featuring Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter and Miles himself... Miles and the rhythm section had already been playing together intensely for a few years so the musicianship is already there, but with Wayne Shorter’s compositions coming into the picture (‘Iris’, ‘E.S.P’) the sound of the second great quintet is born!
A great bandleader/composer really knows how to write for each member of the band, to really express themselves creatively and bring the music to life. This record definitely reflects that and marks the beginning of something truly special that’s going to be talked about for years to come. Being a bandleader/composer, I always find myself going back to these records, you always learn and hear different things the more you grow and develop as a musician and writer.
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Bryony Jarman-Pinto // ‘Bitches Brew’ (1970)
The thing that brought me to Miles Davis’ 1970 record ‘Bitches Brew’ was the album artwork by Mati Klarwein. It had lovingly been framed and hung on my sister and brother in law’s living room wall, and I fell in love with the gatefold. At the time I was in my third year of Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art and it launched me into a short study of spiritual symbolism in paintings. Amazingly, I didn’t get to listen to the album straight away, it took a while for me to hear it and then even longer to appreciate it.
I don’t think you can listen to this album while your focus is elsewhere, it won’t let you. There is so much movement and journeying, you get pulled in and have to absorb the music. You can’t anticipate it so every beat and improvised idea grabs for attention. This sounds tiring but it’s not, the music encourages imagining and meditation. You've got to just listen through it, be lulled into each sound and experiment, then pull yourself out and get on with life. It’s energising.
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Dylan Jones // ‘Cookin’ at the Plugged Nickel 1965’ (1995)
I’ve been listening to Miles since I was about 10 and throughout that time there’s one album that stands out to me - Miles Davis ‘Cookin’ at the Plugged Nickel’. Firstly, this is a live gig, recorded in Chicago in 1965, so the album has a certain energy that you wouldn’t get from a studio recording. I also love the rawness of this album; there’s unnecessary amounts of reverb on the trumpet and sax which is kept in - you can also hear the cash till and people speaking (loudly) in the club which creates an authentic atmosphere.
I’ve heard that Miles had the flu for this gig, or he may have been at a period of his career when he didn’t practice that much. Either way, his technique is all over the place, which fascinates me and inspires me because he makes it appear natural and intentional. This influences my playing ,as I love to try and own the cracks, bumps and rawness in the trumpet as well as accept the fact that you can be creative and perfectly musical even if your technique isn’t on point.
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Louis Cole // ‘In A Silent Way’ (1969)
There are so many deep Miles Davis albums for me. Between the live Fillmore, Jack DeJohnette [Davis’ drummer] insanity and the next level Gil Evans arrangements. But the one album that goes the deepest for me is the ‘In A Silent Way’ complete sessions. The feeling of the album can’t really be described…it’s too magical. But it’s like this warm dark blue combination of acoustic and electric instruments played by some of the greatest musicians ever.
It’s pretty loose and improvised. The slow tracks like the bossa nova version of ‘In A Silent Way (Rehearsal)’ and ‘Mademoiselle Mabry’ and ‘Ascent’ are beautiful. And ‘It’s About That Time’ is still one of the greatest bass riffs and chord progressions I’ve ever heard. Also Tony Williams destroys ‘Splash’ and ‘Dual Mr. Tillmon Anthony’ with some turbo boogaloo grooves. Overall really, just a deeply unique album/era that I haven’t heard anywhere else.
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Salami Rose Joe Louis // ‘Live – Evil’ (1971)
It is tricky to decide, but my favourite album would have to be ‘Live – Evil’ of 1971. This album has a level of magic and synchronicity that is so palpable and moving. You feel as if the energy in the room as the musicians were playing was one of ultimate respect, listening, and communal exploration to the outer reaches of their minds. I really enjoy the way the live recordings feel loose and open for the musicians involved to expand on ideas and explore.
Interlaced between long creative live recordings, there are three studio recordings of renditions of songs by composer Hermeto Pascoal: ‘Little Church’, ‘Nem Um Talvez’, and ‘Selim’. These recordings are some of the most beautiful works to me, with such depth of harmony and texture. The way the sonics of the instruments in these songs blend together to create a mood is transporting. You can hear Hermeto's voice blended in the with Miles' trumpet and multiple keyboardists, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and organist Keith Jarrett, blending their harmony to create this peaceful and otherworldly masterpiece, 'Little Church'.
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‘Rubberband’ is out via Rhino / Warner Bros. Records now.
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