The Miles Español Project

Blogging here has slowed in the past few days and may not pick up markedly for a few more. The Rifftides staff is on deadline for an historical essay to accompany Bob Belden’s Miles Español film project. The research has had to be deeper, wider and more intense than I imagined when I said yes to the assignment. No regrets, though. A few years ago, William Zinsser wrote an inspirational book called Writing to Learn. I thought I knew a thing or two about the subject at hand, but as I write this, boy, am I learning—about the roots of African, Spanish and Caribbean music, how they intertwined and nourished early jazz, about how those traditions informed what we heard from Miles Davis and Gil Evans and led to much of what we hear today. A bonus: I’ve come to know Jelly Roll Morton even better.

Belden’s Miles Español will result in a compact disc, but it is primarily a video venture. Many of the musicians worked with Miles. A few of the players are Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Chano Domínguez, John Scofield, Alex Acuña, Ron Carter and Jerry Gonzalez. All 36 are named in the credits of this 10-minute preview.

Hasta la mañana (mas o menos)

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  1. says

    Thanks for introducing us to that wonderful project! — It was very wise *not* to hire a trumpeter to “fake” Miles; although I think that either Terrence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, or Wallace Roney would have been the perfect “replacements” for him.

    This is, by the way, one of my favorite recordings of “Concierto De Aranjuez”: — I love those spacey sounds.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      And this is one of mine, accompanied by photographs taken in and around Aranjuez. The track is so long that YouTube had to post it in two parts.

      Jim Hall, guitar; Roland Hanna, piano; Ron Carter, bass, Steve Gadd, drums; Chet Baker, trumpet; Paul Desmond, alto saxophone; Don Sebesky, arranger; Joaquin Rodrigo, composer. Recorded April, 1975, for Jim Hall’s album Concierto.

  2. says

    Thanks a bunch, Doug!

    Both videos are blocked in Germany, but I’ve found a way ’round that. — Anyway, my friend Lothar Lewien (Chet Baker biographer) from Berlin wrote:

    “CONCIERTO is and will remain my all-time favorite. Good to know that there are other, far more important jazz connoisseurs than myself, as well here as abroad, who are sharing the very same opinion.”

  3. Terence Smith says

    I am just seeing Doug Ramsey’s selection of the JIm Hall/Chet Baker/Paul Desmond for his video.. More coincidences of taste, but not surprising. I think a lot of us find the JimHall /Chet Baker “Concierto” version of Rodrigo’s Aranjuez just as valid as the Miles/Gil. Which is saying something. For me, these so-called “jazz versions” easily eclipse those from legit guitarists with Leonard Bernstein and co., by getting more of the limitless feeling living in the Rodrigo piece.

    But there is another: the Collaboration version of Laurindo Almeida with the Modern Jazz Quartet. Laurindo gets as far into the feeling as the spirit can take us. And the John Lewis quartet reduction of the orchestral score seems somehow more vast than the Philharmonic. It’s on an old Atlantic LP. I buy every copy I can in the used record bins. And give to people I deem worthy.

  4. Terence Smith says

    Hey, I just looked at the Complete Atlantic Records MJQ Mosaic Box: yep, disk 7 has Laurindo with MJQ, all that great stuff. And the two live set volumes of European recordings, all there. I have almost all the albums represented and would still like it. Plus it has booklet and commentaries by Doug Ramsey. I gotta go back and see: I guess it includes the stuff with Sonny Rollins, live at Music Inn? If anybody out there does not have these, I can assure you you will not be disappointed!