Miles Davis - Big Fun [LP]
Personnel includes: Miles Davis (trumpet); Sonny Fortune (soprano saxophone, flute); Steve Grossman, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Garnett (soprano saxophone); Bennie Maupin (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet); Lonnie Smith, Harold I. Williams (piano); Joe Zawinul (electric piano, Farfisa organ); Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea (electric piano); John McLaughlin (electric guitar); Bihari Sharma (electric sitar, tambura, tabla); Khalil Balakrishna (electric sitar, tambura); Dave Holland (acoustic & electric basses); Harvey Brooks (electric bass); Ron Carter, Michael Henderson (bass); Billy Cobham (drums, triangle); Billy Hart, Al Foster, Jack DeJohnette (drums); Badal Roy (tabla); Airto Moreira (cuica, berimbau, percussion). Recorded at Columbia Studio E, New York, New York between November 19, 1969 and June 12, 1972. Includes liner notes by Bennie Maupin. In the period following Miles Davis' crossover breakthrough, BITCHES BREW, the trumpeter recorded incessantly, trying out new combinations of ideas and musicians. These progressive young musicians went on to forge a new alloy of music from the ore of funk, electric soul, psychedelic blues and progressive rock, with trace elements of classical and jazz. And Miles was the lightning rod for it all. BIG FUN gathers up some of the trumpeter's choicest experiments in '70s cool, much of it with a profoundly Indian flavor, and Miles' attraction to raga phrasing mirrors his love of flamenco melodies, particularly on "Lonely Fire" (a late Miles ballad in the tradition of "Nefertiti," "Shhh/Peaceful" and "Sanctuary"). This moody arrangement is distinguished by floating tear drops of tamboura, sitar, tabla and Fender/Rhodes, as Miles sounds taps, shadowed by soprano sax and bass clarinet, before breaking into tempo over the crossrhythms of Billy Cobham and Jack DeJohnette. Miles employs twin keyboardists, twin bassists and twin drummers, throughout BIG FUN, and the visceral starts and stops of "Great Expectations" highlight the sort of layered, collective polyphony he was trying to develop, his focused melodies acting as a lyric beacon. "Ife" is Miles in his ON THE CORNER mode, marked by the arrival of funk bassist Michael Henderson, percussionist Mtume and long-time collaborator Al Foster (plus Billy Hart) on drums. But the real highlight is "Go Ahead John," where Davis and his favorite guitarist surf over the fulminating groove of Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland in fast funk and slow blues sections.