Much has been written as to why Miles Davis began to merge his own style of modern jazz with the sounds and rhythms of rock: for the money, for the attention, for the reason that he simply could not deny the drive to musically explore. The best explanation of what he achieved is the music itself. His almost single-handed success in tearing down the wall between jazz and rock is captured in the three albums below, recorded by Miles' expanding and increasingly amplified group from 1969 to 1970.
Ashley Kahn is author of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece and A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album.
The double album that proved jazz's top seller to date was controversial and attracted another, younger generation into the Miles fold. Brew drew from a deliberately wide palette of textures and timbres. Deep funk and weighty rock influences abound, along with Latin and African percussion, saucy jams and ghostly, lyrical solos.
Another double album that offered studio dates and tracks from an historic live performance in late 1970 at the Washington D.C. club, the Cellar Door. John McLaughlin's guitar is turned up -- way up. Now add former Motown session man Michael Henderson on bass, keyboardist Keith Jarrett, drummer Jack DeJohnette, percussionist Airto Moreira and sax man Gary Bartz. This was a lineup that should have recorded incessantly.
Rock/jazz equilibrium achieved! With strong R & B flavors, this two-track album is filled with jams that still swing (and rock) hard. Originally intended as the soundtrack to a film depicting the celebrated black prizefighter.