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"Miles in the Sky" & "Filles de Kilimanjaro"


Bol
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I've been wondering whether I should get these. I am a big fan of the all-acoustic '60s Miles Davis quintet, but did not like Miles's fusion albums like "Bitches Brew" when I checked the latter out. Could anyone tell me what these 2 albums are like? Are they more like the acoustic quintet of the mid-60s? What portions of these are all acoustic?

Thanks in advance.

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I say get them both. Both are essential in my opinon.

"Miles in the Sky" if I recall correctly, is about half acoustic and half electric (meaning just Herbie & Ron). But it has some great tunes on it. "Paraphernalia" and "Black Comedy" are two of my favorite Quintet tunes. This is probably the weakest of the Quintet albums, but with music of this order, that means nothing. Get it.

"Filles de Kilimanjaro" is ABSOLUTELY essential. It's all electric, and half the album has Dave Holland and Chick Corea replacing Ron & Herbie. "Tout De Suite" is one of the greatest performances ever recorded. I don't know how your feelings are about "In a Silent Way", but this one is heading more towards that realm. Very atmospheric and intense. One of Miles' greatest albums.

Edited by sal
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I've been wondering whether I should get these. I am a big fan of the all-acoustic '60s Miles Davis quintet, but did not like Miles's fusion albums like "Bitches Brew" when I checked the latter out. Could anyone tell me what these 2 albums are like? Are they more like the acoustic quintet of the mid-60s? What portions of these are all acoustic?

Thanks in advance.

Both of these albums are close enough to the modus operandi of the earlier quintet recordings that you shouldn't find anything too shocking.

Miles in the Sky is IMHO the weakest of this group's albums. It's still really good, but things don't click as well as they do on the group's best work. I think Miles and the group were still trying to figure out how to merge elements of popular music into jazz and hadn't gotten it quite right yet. Two of the tunes ("Paraphernalia" and "Black Comedy") are similar to material the group had been recording on Nefertiti and Sorcerer. "Country Son" is an interesting composition in three parts -- ballad, swinging, boogaloo; Miles, Wayne and Herbie go through this sequence. (I never thought I'd say this, but it sounds like Tony is overplaying on this tune.) And "Stuff" is a long boogaloo, the only track on the album that features electric piano.

Filles de Kilimanjaro is one of Miles's best albums from ANY period. Each track does something different -- funky as hell on "Frelon Brun", a mellow vibe on "Filles de Kilimanjaro", more post-boppish on "Petit Machins". Miles, Wayne, and Tony are all at the top of their games. My favorite tune on here is "Mademoiselle Mabry", which has an incredible dreamy feel over which Miles, Wayne and Chick spin their solos. I guess I'm gushing about this recording, but it really is that good. And I know there are quite a few other people here who feel the same way. By the way, there's electric piano on every track, but I think if you had to make the case for electric piano in jazz (not fusion) this album would be exhibit A.

Guy

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I've been listening to Filles and Nefertiti this week. Filles is very good. I think you will find that it has a very similar aesthetic to the all-acoustic music Miles was making at this time.

Miles In The Sky is not as popular with others as it is with me, for whatever reason. I like the density of the music. It should be noted that George Benson plays on the second track. I don't know of any other recordings where he plays in this style, which is non-boogaloo, not straight ahead jazz, but edgy and darker than what I have heard from him. Reminds me alot of Joe Beck on Circle In the Round.

I would get both, if I were you. I have an old copy of both, so if you don't like them, I'd be happy to buy the remastered copies off of you at a fair price!

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Both are worth buying.

Like many above I find Miles in the Sky less engaging than most of the music of that Miles period.

But Filles is an absolute wonder. Just a glint of electricity to give it a very special sound. It's often explained as a prelude to the electric years (which in one respect it is) but I've always felt it to be very much a world of its own.

One of my favourites.

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'Miles In The Sky' was the first album I bought from that period. I had heard Silent Way not long before and was familiar with the Evans stuff, so you can imagine what a shock this album was to me. In fact each one bought subsequently afterwards , all out of sequence, provided more shocks.

The album pushed all my buttons like only a few albums ever had and I still feel the same about it now. One of the most played albums from the 60's in my collection and one of the few albums that I can get to the end of and hit 'Repeat All' and sit comfortably through again.

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'Miles In The Sky' is worth getting for three reasons:

1. It's close enough to the classic 60s Quintet that it sounds nearly the same

2. You get to hear George Benson

3. Tony Williams slams the drums every way they can be slammed, bounced, and banged, which results in quite an enjoyable listening experience

Edited by wesbed
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MILES IN THE SKY is just a plain fukkin' WIERD album. I love it to death, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that there was a vibe to it that's most unusual. Personally, I think it's that Miles' studio music of this period was on a continually inwardly-focued trip, and this album was the apex of it. Look at the covers, front and back. It's all about "look but don't touch". Especially that jungle kittty's head coming out of Miles' crotch. But the front cover, with a split head opening up into all sorts of concentric rainbow shit, that's like "plenty stuff in here, but it's IN HERE, not out there, and you gotta come and get it if you want it, which ain't gonna be easy, 'cause I got a growling lion coming outta my groin. Deal with it."

FILLES otoh, was the warning shot that things were going to start gettin a bit more in your face. And they did, although the "inward" direction continued for quite a bit afterwards. We just didn't hear it at the time, 'cause it stayed in the vaults.

But hey - they're both albums that you eventually gotta have and come to terms with if you at all care about music that goes beyond the bop/hardbop parameters yet still remains "jazz" for anything other than recreational purposes.

GOT to.

Edited by JSngry
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"Miles in the Sky" was my introduction to the music of Miles Davis (aside from his work with Bird). It was 1968, I was in the ninth grade, and a friend down the block played "Miles in the Sky" all the time. "Miles in the Sky" was also getting a lot of air play on KBCA. So it wasn't long before the music grew on and in me and I had to buy a copy for myself. Soon I heard "Gingerbread Boy" and "Footprints" from "Miles Smiles" on the radio, and I had to get that ("Miles Smiles" is still my very favorite Miles record, btw). "Sorceror", "ESP", and "Nefertiti" followed. Then, my next Miles record was "Bitches Brew", not long after it was released with much fanfare, and I played that all through that summer...

For different reasons, "Filles" and "In A Silent Way" did not grab me (and I did not grab them) till several years later.

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Not much more to say, but here's another who really recommends "Filles de Kilimanjaro". I think it's a masterpiece. I could not count how many times I've played it since I got the LP (when first issued). It's a marvellously absorbing suite. Whether or not the instruments are acoustic is irrelevant when you have musicians, compositions and performance at this level. And I'm one who greatly prefers acoustic, pre-1968 jazz. I am not a huge fan of "Bitches' Brew" and Miles' later offerings, but "Filles" is just terrific.

Someone well said that you can regard the album as a suite for Tony Williams. The wash of sound that he produces is a superb illustration of how good he was.

The old Columbia CD sounded quite good, but I like the original suite so much that I put together a CDr from the box sets, and I imagine that the current CD of the album sounds like that. Be aware that the old CD, and the LP, had errors in the personnel listings.

Like others, I also think that "Miles In The Sky" is not the best of the quintet's albums, but we are speaking relatively, and it is still good stuff, well worth a listen. I wouldn't place it at the top of my wants list, though. Buy it when things are quiet (if they ever are!).

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Thanks for all the recommendations. I will try these. I've always resisted any electric piano or bass because a few times I've listened to albums with them, I really did not like the sounds. But perhaps I should make an exception for Miles Davis.

Thanks again.

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I enjoy both albums. "Black Comedy" on "Sky" is an absolute amazing showcase for Tony's shifting meters, and there are the beginnings to my ear, of the heavy bashing style that would be his calling. I haven't listened to either in a long time, but "Filles" doesn't get as much play, no particular reason, just doesn't. Again, on that one, Tony reaches an incredible level of power on that album, I remember reading that is one of Wallace Roney's favorites citing Miles didn't enter territory quite like on that record again.

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I definitely hear the beginning of that bashing style (which I really mourn got developed and became an dominant element of his playing). Black Comedy has always been a highlight for me of the album though, I like the shifting that the composition goes through.

Filles really does stand alone in some ways. It blew my mind a looooonnnnnnng time ago and I still get a rush hearing it. I bought the DSD Sony cd and I'm glad I did. (Probably will end up getting it on SACD one day!)

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I didn't "get" Filles when I first bought it about 8 years ago. Sat on the shelf ever since, but the other day I put it on after reading this thread. I sat there wondering what the problem was back then. Sounds great to me now. :huh:

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Just took advantage of the Borders 20% off coupon to purchase "In the Sky", "Kilimanjaro", and "Silent Way". Just listened to the first 2 tracks of "Kilimanjaro" and the whole of "Silent Way". So far, pretty good. "Silent Way" became a bit monotonous after a while. And for both, I cannot help thinking that a piano would have been nicer. And if he wanted thick chordal textures, why not a real church organ? Call me a philistine! Hopefully, these will grow on me in the future. I don't regret getting them. Not yet, anyway. I really like Holland and Williams's playing so far.

Edited by Bol
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