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Miles Smiles Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, October 6, 1998
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Editorial Reviews


The most satisfying sort of audacity was the rule with Miles Davis's second great quintet. One of six studio albums cut by the group between 1965 and 1968, Miles Smiles finds them executing three Wayne Shorter compositions and one by the leader, along with Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance," former Davis cohort Jimmy Cobb's "Gingerbread Boy," and the usual mix of finesse and barreling momentum. Even when nodding toward the then-burgeoning hard-bop movement on the Harris piece, the group makes its own mark in a hundred different ways, from Herbie Hancock's spare touch to the thoroughly declarative solo Davis lays down. It's hard to pick the most exceptional cut on such a top-flight disc, but certainly Shorter's deceptively simple "Orbits" and "Footprints" deserve mention; on the former, the players take turns stating the melody and then rumbling over it. The latter's echoes of "Caravan" make way for an improv performance that not only hangs tough in itself, but seems to have provided a template for the entire early career of Wynton Marsalis. --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 6, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: October 6, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Columbia/Legacy
  • Run Time: 41 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000DCH1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,637 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Powell on October 4, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Miles was not only a brilliant musician and composer in his own right, he also had an incredible ability to bring out the best in his sidemen and establish them as leaders - usually young incredibly talented musicians whose most brilliant work was yet to come. Usually their most brilliant work was as a member of Miles' bands. Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter were probably the finest musicians Miles ever played with and with Miles they produced some of their most astonishing music.
Miles Smiles should not your first purchase if you are new to jazz or new to the music of Miles. Kind of Blue would be a better album to ease into. However, once you have found yourself mesmerized by the fluidity and pure beauty of that album, it is time to go a little deeper. The music on Miles Smiles is a little more abstract and complex. Miles was exploring free jazz more with this second quintet, and this album along with E.S.P and Sorcerer transitioned into Miles' new phase prior to the freer and more electric period. Free jazz in my opinion got a little too "out there." This never seems that way. The band is right on target, playing with a unity that is mind-blowing.
Herbie Hancock's beautiful flourishes on "Circle" still give me chills, Tony Williams crisp, rhythmic drum fills are flawless from beginning to end. Many people have said bassist Ron Carter is overrated - listen to this album and you will have to disagree. Wayne is as precise and as melodic as usual - truly a master of his instrument. And Miles? What more can be said? He's the man.
If you have a couple Miles CD's and are really digging them, then you will LOVE Miles Smiles. Recorded in one take, it is nothing less than spontaneous, beautiful music.
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Format: Audio CD
Some may wonder with Miles Davis's vast catalogue, could there possibly be a recording that eclipses the infamous KIND OF BLUE? Well as a avid Miles fan, I can tell you there are several releases which eclipse it, most notably MILES SMILES. In my opinion, this could be the greatest acoustic Miles record ever released.

This is definitely my favorite record by his second great quintet, which featured personnel upgrades in Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums), who was just 17 years old when Miles first hired him. Wayne Shorter, (tenor sax) replaces John Coltrane, who, at this time, was exploring new territory at the time with such avant-garde releases as ASCENSION and INTERSTELLAR SPACE. Trane and Miles were growing too far apart from each other for it to make sense to have them playing together. Coltrane needed to be a leader at this time.

Just 21 months earlier, this quintet released their debut, E.S.P., to much critical acclaim. On MILES SMILES, this group spaces out even more, making the most of Williams' polyrhythms, and the inter-twining modal soloing of Shorter and Davis. There is so much going on at all times - as a listener, you can choose to focus on just one instrument of your choice the entire time and rarely lose interest.

This disc opens up with the Wayne Shorter original, 'Orbits', and we are immediately presented with the type of abstract playing the two solists are exploring. Hancock acts more as a soloist on this recording as well, but at the same time focus on the drums and bass, especially Carter's ability to hold the group together with his walking patterns. Two other Shorter originals are feautured here - 'Footprints' and 'Dolores'.
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Format: Audio CD
Miles Smiles is the second album by the second Great Quintet. The consensus is also that it's the best of that quintet's 6 studio albums; I can't disagree. It starts where its predecessor, E.S.P., left off but delves even further into abstraction and exploration. Fans of the trumpeter's 50s recordings may find this album's abstraction forbidding even if it doesn't feature the outright dissonance of 60s free jazz. Though none of the tunes ever abandon a central pulse, the actual meter and rhythm are always ambiguous; and Herbie Hancock's sparse or nonexistent comping during Davis and Shorter's solos frees up the harmony and lets the soloists play whatever they want. The relative absence of the piano also contributes to the dry, skeletal sound of the album. Shorter thrives in this setting, whereas Miles provides some of the most exciting, virtuosic playing of his career. And the 19 year old Tony Williams is a monster on the drums; you may never hear better drumming elsewhere. The performances are all classics. "Orbits" links a memorable tune to unfettered improvisation. "Circle" is an abstraction of the classic Miles ballad sound and features one of the greatest piano solos of all time -- anybody who's heard this album with agree. "Footprints" is an unforgettable, mysterious Wayne Shorter composition with a probing, masterful solo by Miles and some spiky, Taylor-esque chording by Hancock. Williams is fully on charge on that one, with Ron Carter's elastic bass playing holding the band together. "Dolores" is another catchy Shorter composition, and the album closes with two masterful deconstructions of jazz standards. These definitive takes of Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance" and Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" completely reinvent the tunes. Miles Smiles is easily in a 60s jazz top ten; its cerebral beauty is *that* compelling.
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