Sorcerer, the 1967 album from Miles Davis, has been in my CD player the last couple of days and, to pun badly, I've been more than a little entranced by how amazingly well these improvisers,all of whom are distinct and potentially dominating in ensemble efforts, work so cohesively as a group.There's a perfect kind of modal combustion here, with Miles Davis contrasting his spare and fairly angular sense of improvisation with the formidable resourcefulness of this album's principal ensemble, Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (double bass) and Tony Williams (drums). The music is a unusual combination of the unforced and the aggressive, resisting the temptation to either go slack in their pace or stray toward the harsh vicissitudes of anguished, strident experimentation, a pulsing course of off-accented rhythms, musical swaths of varying tones and colors, and ingenious interlacing between primary soloist Davis, Shorter and Hancock. Ensemble exploration at its peak, it seems, as the three of them actively listen to and anticipate each other's ideas during the respective solo spots. This is what the great Davis groups did, find unexamined nuance and moods in the musical tones.
|Sorcerer --Miles Davis (Sony)|
Davis and Shorter in particular offer up a few exquisite moments of dialogue as they answer, query, interrogate and respond to musical propositions put forth by the other. As great as the previous occupant in the saxophone chair had been, the redoubtable and effusively brilliant John Coltrane, Shorter was a better fit for Davis' ideas for the ensemble at the time, 1967, when this disc was recorded His solos are less galvanic than Coltrane's were, more composed, filled with lithe and delicate phrases , wonderfully respondent to the rhythms and pulse Williams and Carter provided and the full range of ideas underscores and textures the sound with.Davis is at his best, lyrical, on the edge of atonal, bracing when needed, the tone of his notes isolated and longing.
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