Seven Steps to Heaven
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What is certain is that `Seven Steps to Heaven' is one beautiful album full of cool, stretched-out ballads. It usually fails to make Miles' defining discography of `milestones' only because no new ground was broken, no definitive new style established. However the music is absolutely first class, ambient and repeat-listenable in the way of KoB and `In a Silent Way'.
* On tracks 2, 4 & 6 Herbie Hancock plays piano and Tony Williams is on drums (both destined to become members of Miles' great quintet in the mid-sixties)
* All remaining tracks feature Victor Feldman on keyboards and Frank Butler on drums
* George Coleman plays some fine sax
* Ron Carter plays bass on all tracks
All in all a great album and a fine, mellow mood-piece from the period preceding Miles' move towards jazz-fusion resulting in the great defining masterworks `In a Silent Way' and the seminal `Bitches Brew'.
It's good. If you like Miles Davis, and particularly the more mellow ballads, you'll love it.
Whereas Tony readily became the "power stream" that drove the quintet, with the most shimmering, scintillating sound ever produced by a ride cymbal, Frank Butler was a more deliberate and thoughtful "team player," attentive to each and every accent, rest, crescendo and decrescendo of the music, which he helped "sculpt" into a collaborative, yet unified and organic whole.
And when it was Butler's turn to solo, he submitted arguably the most melodic, persistently rewarding solos of any percussionist on record. His most notable contribution would occur with the Curtis Counce Group, which was no doubt the West Coast's equivalent of Miles' first great quintet.
But no need to take my word for it. Listen to his ensemble and solo work on this one track from his first album with Curtis Counce: A Fifth For Frank
The lack of a good saxophone also has implications for the material played here. Once Wayne Shorter came on and the Second Great Quartet was complete, Shorter's labyrinthine freebop tunes were to give this band a unique sound and better challenge their technical abilities. SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN, however, is made up entirely of standards, and most tracks are ballads. However, the title track, "So Near, So Far" and "Joshua" display at once the band members who were here to stay: Hancock's open exploration of the keyboard feels liberating, while Williams has a confidence with the drum kit beyond his 19 years at the time.
SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN doesn't hold up to the albums that follow, but it is hard to really knock it. You might not be impressed by the drummer and pianist on the slow tunes, and you might not remember that Coleman is even on this record at all, but Miles is always in fine form. I feel a deeper appreciation of his strengths with ballands, and he really knows how to transfigure standards.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this CD. It came early and I love the music. But what else would I expect from Amazon.com?Published 4 months ago by Bill Peeler
FABULOUS! I am surprised that I didn't have this album so was very excited to find it online. It is a fabulous album of classic ballads. Definitely a must have.Published 11 months ago by Winebyrd
can you prove there are seven steps to heaven ? maybe there are sixPublished 12 months ago by 4zzzz.