Friday 10 November 2023

Masqualero - Miles Davis

Masqualero - Miles Davis (1967)
The four (pre-electric) second quintet records E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer and Nefertiti have been severely underrated by the CardrossManiac. Thirty years ago they were deemed only of interest as precursors to Miles in electric mode, not bad albums but still pretty dusty and fusty. I did not realise they were full blown artistic achievements worthy of prestigious status all of their own.   

In a way this is Wayne Shorter's band more than anyone else's but perhaps that's a misnomer as it's also definitely Tony Williams' band and it's also a Miles... Actually it really is a band, not a solo project. Jazz outfits usually always used a stars name though. We all know Can were the ultimate psychic rock band but this quintet reached extreme telepathic levels that are peerless. 

Masqualero starts out with clunks of drums and bass and keys, almost immediately Miles and Shorter begin riffing in unison, trumpet and sax going in and out of phase for a minute. Then the next six minutes are a free-bop extravaganza. Miles does his thing for a bit as do the other sans Shorter. Then Miles drops out as Shorter enters adding some of the most beautiful sounding saxophone textures and lines he ever recorded. While wonderful lowdown lulls and whirlpools of exquisite moody space are created by Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. With a minute to go Miles and Shorter come back, in off kilter unison, before a final flourish from the other three. 

While Masqualero is composed by Wayne Shorter you know that's only a blueprint and free playing is the goal. Playing (including listening) that's flexible, improvisational and cosmic yet not formless but not conventional either. Lucky for them responsiveness was collectively instinctual with each member of this quintet. 

Sorcerers indeed!

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