Posts Tagged ‘Miles Davis’

Bob Dylan and Miles Davis: Sony’s big box sets compared

November 13, 2009

As far as Bob Dylan and Miles Davis, its major assets, are concerned, Sony does a creditable job managing the treasures locked away in its priceless vaults.

However much hardcore fans might moan about the slow drip-feed of the unreleased Dylan legacy, Columbia Legacy is to be commended on its Bootleg Series.

Columbia Legacy also manages its Miles Davis assets pretty astutely, though some Miles aficionados whinge that Sony has released too much inconsequential blathering by the Prince Of Darkness!

But the imminent release of the Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection will leave Bobfans drawing unfavourable comparisons with the Zim equivalent, 2003’s Bob Dylan Revisited: The Reissues Series.

The two reissue projects are similar in key respects – all the albums in both collections have remarkable upgraded sound and both boxes reintroduce the original album artwork, in seductive digipak format.

But, in other ways, the new Miles box is more compelling:

* it pulls together all of the label’s Miles albums – Bob Dylan Revisited: The Reissues Series was selective, with only 15 titles, against the Miles box’s whopping 52, many of them double albums!

* many of the Miles albums carry worthwhile bonus tracks – the Dylan reissues eschewed any.

* even if you already own most of the original recordings, the incentives to buy the Miles box are persuasive – a newly released live DVD, a couple of previously unreleased CDs-worth of music, a substantial 250 page book by two leading Miles experts, and striking packaging.

* value: the “street” launch prices of the two boxes are similar, but the Miles box gives you far more bang for your buck.

Bottom line: I already had virtually all releases by both musicians. I passed on the Dylan box; I’ve ordered the Miles box.

Gerry Smith

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Outstanding new releases from Kraftwerk, Sting, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, John Coltrane and Miles Davis

October 8, 2009

Forget the Beatles remasters. Forget Dylan’s Xmas album (due in the UK on Monday).

There are some exciting new releases by Music for Grown-Ups favourites about to hit the streets, notably:

* Kraftwerk’s back catalogue – remastered, released singly and in a collectable box set, The Catalogue. Prima!

* Sting’s tempting foray into traditional and classical song – If On A Winter’s Night.

* Top mezzo-soprano outings – Cecilia Bartoli with Sacrificium; and Joyce DiDonato with Rossini.

* John Coltrane’s early work on Prestige as a sideman with a variety of bands (except Miles’s), collected as Side Steps

* All of Miles Davis’s Columbia albums – 70 discs! – in a single box.

A bumper autumn in store…

Gerry Smith

Two Miles Davis tribute programmes on BBC radio this week

August 24, 2009

You can hardly accuse BBC Radio of ignoring Miles Davis.

Last night’s Jazz Line-Up on BBC Radio 3 featured Julian Joseph’s celebration of the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, in the company of trumpeter Henry Lowther, who performed with Davis’s regular collaborator/arranger Gil Evans.

Lowther also met Miles whilst playing in Hollywood, as well as seeing him perform in England not long after the release of Kind Of Blue. He talks about the impact the album has had on his own playing, and provides musical insights and illustrations highlighting the importance of this landmark recording.

Title: So What
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 1
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 8m45s

Title: Freddie Freeloader (studio Sequence 1)
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 7
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 30s

Title: Freddie Freeloader
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 2
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 9m32s

Title: Blue in Green
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 3
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 5m23s

Title: All Blues
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 4
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 11m27s

Title: Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take)
Artist: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Bill Evans/Cannonball Adderley/Paul Chambers/Jimmy Cobb
Album: Kind of Blue
Label: Legacy 8869 733552
Track: 5
Comp: Miles Davis
Publ: Sony
Dur: 9m29s

And tomorrow, Tuesday 25 August, at 2230, BBC Radio 2 celebrates the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way, and explores the extraordinary music that Miles produced in the period dubbed the “Electric Era” from 1969-75.

The documentary includes newly sourced interview material from musicians who collaborated with Miles including Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette and Dave Liebman.

You can listen to many BBC radio programmes online for 7 days after broadcast:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

Bob Dylan, Miles Davis… and Mozart – your top musicians for grown-ups

April 29, 2009
Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Mozart are the favourite musicians of grown-up listeners.

Dylan (currently on an eight-date British tour), Davis and Mozart head the Top 10 poll, which includes rockers from the 1970s (Neil Young) and the 1980s (The Smiths/Morrissey) alongside pre-rock pop stars (Sinatra) and classical composers (Beethoven).

The Top 10 Musicians for Grown-Ups, as nominated by readers, are:

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1. Bob Dylan
2. Miles Davis
3. Mozart
4. Neil Young
5. Frank Sinatra
6. Bruce Springsteen
7. Tom Waits
8. Beethoven
9. Van Morrison
10. The Smiths/Morrissey

The Top 10 Musicians for Grown-Ups

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Given the focus of the website, there are few surprises in the ranking, though my own list wouldn’t place Springsteen or Tom Waits so high.

Thanks again to all readers who nominated their Top Musicians for Grown-Ups: analyzing your votes produced a wonderfully eclectic ranking of great musos from many genres.

The lucky winner of my new book, Music For Grown-Ups – who requested privacy – has been informed.

Gerry Smith

Music for grown-ups on the mag racks: two new Miles, one new Dylan cover

December 4, 2008
Key musicians for grown-ups Miles Davis and Bob Dylan feature prominently on the magazine racks this month.

Promoting the sooopah-dooopah new Kind Of Blue box, my two favourite jazz mags both have Miles cover features. Jazzwise (Dec/Jan) uses one of the iconic Sony photos for its eight-page feature.

Jazz Magazine (Paris) uses a less familiar shot of Miles on the evocative cover of its Dec issue to trail a multi-part feature.

They nicely complement the striking portrait used by Jazziz for its September issue.

www.jazzwise.com

www.jazzmagazine.com

www.jazziz.com

The new issue (1066, 27 Nov) of the redesigned Rolling Stone has a mid-‘60s Dylan photo on its cover (he’s one of four different collectors’ covers) announcing its Special Issue – The 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time.

Dylan manages seventh place in the top 100, which was compiled by polling a couple of hundred celebs/music bizzers. I didn’t bother reading any of the short articles on the “great singers” (Dylan’s praises are sung by Bono), but the issue is a lovely addition to the collection of Dylan cover issues.

Surprisingly, there’s no place in the top 100 for tenors like Pavarotti, sopranos like Callas or lounge greats like Sinatra and Ella. Rolling Stone must have run out of space to insert the qualifying adjectives “Baby Boomer-plus rockpop” between “Greatest” and “Singers Of All Time”. Without them, the title of the otherwise admirable 40-page feature is laughable.

www.rollingstone.com

Gerry Smith

Miles Davis exhibition in NYC

November 13, 2008
The Genius Of Miles Davis: The Columbia Years, an exhibition of photographs from the Sony archive, opens on Friday 21 November at New York’s Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Featuring rare and unseen work by Sony staff photographers shot between 1965 and 1985, sixteen 30 x40 prints will be on show and available for sale in limited editions.

The exhibition marks another stage in the development of Sony’s new ICON Collectibles division as a profit centre set up to exploit the record company’s rich photographic archive of over one million images, including major musicians for grown-ups like Miles, Dylan, Ella, Tony Bennett and Johnny Cash.

www.morrisonhotelgallery.com

Gerry Smith

Classic Miles Davis albums – at a giveaway price

November 7, 2008
As copyrights expire, under the 50-year rule, more and more great albums are starting to enter the public domain. You’ve been able to pick up dirt cheap reissues of 1940s greats – Sinatra, Ella and the like – for years, but mid-1950s masterpieces are now being reissued on el cheapo labels.

Elvis Presley’s 1956 recordings were the first to get the £2 supermarket treatment: the floodgates have opened.

The best deal I’ve seen so far is a new reissue of classic 1950s albums by Miles Davis’s first great quintet, including Coltrane, for three different labels – Prestige, CBS and Philips.

Last week, I bought Miles Away (3CD box, on the Not Now label) at Fopp for £5. Worth a punt, I mused – though it’s probably crappy off-air live recordings.

Not at all. It contains remastered versions of no fewer than six original must-have Miles albums: Cookin’, Relaxin’, Steamin’, Round about Midnight, Miles Ahead and l’Ascenseur pour l’Echafaud. A wonderful package.

If you’ve been thinking of sampling Miles Davis, but have put it off – now’s the time.

Classic Miles albums at 83 pence each? Whatever next?

Gerry Smith

Compelling Miles Davis cover on current issue of JAZZIZ

October 23, 2008
The current (September) issue of JAZZIZ has a compelling, beautiful Miles Davis cover, announcing a feature article questioning the primacy of Kind Of Blue among the jazz classics.

Cover and feature – a total of seven pages – were more than enough to persuade me to pay £7.95 for an imported copy of the mag at my local Borders.

The article, by Marc Myers, is a challenging piece – “the album’s impact on jazz has become somewhat inflated over time… the tracks all suffer from a dull similarity…”. It’s published to coincide with the release of the Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition.

The Miles cover is only the second issue of JAZZIZ I’ve ever bought. The first was in the early ‘90s when I was getting into jazz; I decided that its approach wasn’t for me.

Credit to its Boca Raton, Florida publishers, though – it’s beautifully designed and it was well ahead of the jazz-lite curve. Its success indicates that it supplies its market with the easy jazz/lifestyle content they want.

www.jazziz.com

Marc Myers blogs at:

www.jazzwax.com

Gerry Smith

HMV has bargains, too

October 22, 2008
Just as Music for Grown-Ups was bemoaning the price of new Miles and Dylan boxes at HMV, sister site Dylan Daily carried a report of HMV bargains:

Dylan on Dylan and I’m Not There – heavily discounted

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“I thought Dylan Daily readers would like to know that branches of HMV are currently offering Jonathan Cott’s book, Dylan on Dylan, for £3 (RRP £8.99) and the DVD of I’m Not There as part of their 3 for £20 promotion.”

(And Fopp, HMV’s recently acquired subsidiary, is also discounting the single DVD version of I’m Not There – to £8 the last time I visited a Fopp store. Gerry Smith)

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EARLIER RELATED ARTICLE

New Dylan and Miles box sets – big price differences

The new Dylan and Miles box sets – Tell Tale Signs Deluxe and Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition – are big Sony launches destined to fill many grown-up Xmas stockings.

There’s a marked variation in prices from the different retailers, though. The best prices I’ve seen are from Zavvi online – £79 (Dylan) and £50 (Miles).

When I called in on Saturday, HMV Oxford Circus had a couple of eye-watering price tags: £95 (Dylan) and £85 (Miles), though the HMV combined web price is much lower – only £10 above Zavvi’s.

With every passing week, I find myself less and less inclined to buy from the big bricks-and-mortar London megastores; I used to be a big customer.

And their small branches seem to have given up on music. My local HMV now focuses on DVD and games, with music taking only a small proportion of floor space; I probably won’t bother going in there again.

Gerry Smith

New Dylan and Miles box sets – big price differences

October 20, 2008
The new Dylan and Miles box sets – Tell Tale Signs Deluxe and Kind Of Blue 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition – are big Sony launches destined to fill many grown-up Xmas stockings.

There’s a marked variation in prices from the different retailers, though. The best prices I’ve seen are from Zavvi online – £79 (Dylan) and £50 (Miles).

When I called in on Saturday, HMV Oxford Circus had a couple of eye-watering price tags: £95 (Dylan) and £85 (Miles), though the HMV combined web price is much lower – only £10 above Zavvi’s.

With every passing week, I find myself less and less inclined to buy from the big bricks-and-mortar London megastores; I used to be a big customer.

And their small branches seem to have given up on music. My local HMV now focuses on DVD and games, with music taking only a small proportion of floor space; I probably won’t bother going in there again.

Gerry Smith