“Bye Bye Blackbird”
Who would have thought that a cover of a classic previously recorded by everyone from Gene Austin to Fitzgerald would become one of the most definitive tracks of modern jazz? Alive with melodic, lyric-mimicking trumpet sections and a wild solo by Coltrane, Davis really hit home with his eight-minute re-invigoration of the track, which was released on the 1957 album “Round About Midnight”.
“Autumn Leaves” is an elegant and jazzy piece that jumps easily between Parisian whimsy and Moroccan-come-Spanish twists. Long and winding, the tune evokes a certain wanderlust, hopping to far-flung destinations and delving into nostalgic memories as Art Blakey and Davis alternate drums and trumpet. For another fabulous rendition of “Autumn Leaves” featuring Miles, check out his 11-minute jam with Cannonball Adderley on the latter’s 1958 record “Somethin’ Else”.
Recorded in one long session, live at the Festival Hall in Osaka in 1975, “Prelude” (both Part 1 and Part 2 – initially combined) is not what you’d usually associate with the plaintive phrases of Davis. In fact, it’s widely categorized as jazz-prog-rock, along with the rest of its umbrella album, “Agharta”. Here’s Part 2: expect funk notes and slap bass, Hendrix-style solos and more!
“Seven Steps to Heaven”
The eponymous track to Davis’ 1963 Columbia release is widely considered to be the standard that set the tone for the so-called second coming of the quintet, reformed for side two of the LP with Herbie Hancock on keys and Tony Williams on drums. Upbeat and thought-provoking, there’s an enticing urgency to the piece from the get go.
An unforgettable shuffle jazz that’s now become the memorable track on the B-side of “Kind of Blue”, “All Blues” is a Mixolydian masterpiece. There’s something brooding and tenuous about the cliff-hanger notes and turnarounds, culminating in a sort of musical liberation when the beats break and the muted trumpet solos fly in. Inspired!