Iain Cameron's Diary
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2010-12-02 - 4:04 p.m.

The bear kicked off this morning with the MD Time after Time – always welcome. There was more snow which I think is the same everywhere but I heard that it startied to melt at least before starting to freeze again. This street will be one of the last to clear I think. Café Oto mailed their latest programme and I fwded it to Rob. I had started the day with the Sorceror which is still one of my favourites. The bear ran off mid-morning so I went onto Filles de Kilimanjairo but he showed up before the end with the Japanese Restaurant and a Luther Vandross remix. He even pulled a track from Eli and the 13th Confession.

I mailed Bette about the situation in Brill and I was surprised to learn that the snow seems to have passed them by although the wind has been very cold. I read the NESTA newsletter and came across a good article on business growth dynamics

http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Growth_Dynamics.pdf

I sent this link to various contacts. I watched the FIFA announcement on the World Cup location until it was announced that the UK hadn’t got it.

Then I went back to FdeK – here’s some reasons why

Filles de Kilimanjaro has an odd pedigree for an "album" -- it was recorded in two different sessions, featuring two different lineups. As an ALBUM this is one of the highest peaks in Miles Davis's career.

The three middle tracks ("Tout de Suite", "Petit Machins", "Filles de Kilimanjaro") were the last recordings of the 2nd Quintet with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock. These five musicians played great on nearly all their recordings, but here they are really incredible. And the MVP has to be Tony Williams, who supplies the music with lots of extra juice. "Tout" combines mellow, Gil Evans arranged outer sections with an explosive rock middle section; Miles and Wayne play off the fireworks of Tony's drumming. "Petit Machins" is the most conventional melody here, but the improvisation afterward is open-ended. The title track has a gorgeous, dreamy melody a la "Footprints" or "Masqualero".

"Frelon Brun" and "Mademoiselle Mabry" were recorded three months later with Chick Corea and Dave Holland replacing Herbie and Ron. "Frelon Brun" is surely one of the best boogaloos ever recorded: intense solos by Wayne and Miles, Chick's spiky comping behind them, and Tony Williams going completely crazy underneath. "Mademoiselle Mabry", on the other hand, initially seems like a bunch of languid, bluesy phrases (including a nod to Jimi Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary") played by Chick and Dave under Miles's statement of the melody. But eventually you realize that these phrases form the frame of the song, repeated over and over while Miles, Wayne and Chick paint beautiful, unhurried solo statements over it. Tony doesn't "drum" here, instead commenting irregularly but respectfully when the music merits it. And then the tune ends just like it started, with Miles playing the melody.

This is a major masterwork, a collection of five magical experiences captured in the studio. It's an album that maintains jazz's approach to improvisation, but fuses it with electric piano and rock and soul grooves in a way that's rarely been done since. Miles moved in the rock and soul direction more decisively with In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew (both wonderful albums) but unfortunately never explored the peaks of Kilimanjaro again.

I have always thought Mme Mabry is utterly brilliant

OR AGAIN For me also this has been a longtime-favorite, even though, as other reviewers have said, not often recognized by everyone. In all aspects this marks a transition. The Fender Rhodes is used here for the first time, and to great effect--Herbie Hancock knows what he is doing, maximizing the funky effect and bell-like clarity of the instrument by not playing it too much. A tune like "Tout de Suite" showcases Hancock's rich economy: he uses the Rhodes almost like a percussive instrument. On "Frelon Brun," the Rhodes plays a different part in the rhythm section, almost as an electric bass, and it is funky, y'all. The album is also a transition in terms of composition, as was "Sorcerer," recorded the year before. The five Davis-originals foreshadow what was to come, and the songs Wayne Shorter wrote for that earlier album seem to have influenced Davis here. Polyrhythmic and polyharmonic, these songs, more than those on "Sorcerer," played with more or less traditional jazz instrumentation, look ahead to the kind of free jazz/funk/rock displayed on "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew." My favorite is "Petits Machins," which combines just about everything I like about this music and particularly these musicians. The theme is great and played with tremendous energy. Davis's trumpet initially sounds cool and detached, but the intellectual sparsity gives way to great emotion. He makes it sounds so easy, seemingly playing beyond all measure while being in total control. Typically Miles, the final bars of the song repeat the theme with immense sadness, as if the dream is over, and I have the feeling he is quoting these lines in 1986, on "Tutu" (listen to "Tomaas"). The song's drumtrack alone is worth the price of the CD--Tony Williams does all of this, I think, on just a bass, a snare, and a ride. Whatever it was that made Davis hire him in 1962 or 63, when Williams was, you know, like seventeen years old, it was heaven-sent.

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