The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68

When Miles Davis formed his second quintet with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, he knew that they were “going to be a motherfucker of a group.” In just three and a half years together, the quintet recorded some of the most brilliant, innovative masterpieces in the history of jazz.

From E.S.P. (January 1965), Miles Smiles (October 1966), Sorcerer (May 1967), Nefertiti (June 1967), Miles in the Sky (January and May 1968) to Filles de Kilimanjaro (June 1968), Keith Waters analyzes in depth The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68 “through their compositional, melodic, harmonic, formal, improvisational, and participatory strategies.” With Waters’s detailed assessments such as motivic organization, meter and hypermeter and circular tunes, this book isn’t suitable for casual listeners.

While I find the technical analysis intriguing, I am more interested in the feelings these men had created and the personal connection between a group of talented musicians. The emotion and the sound in Davis’s trumpet, the melodic and harmonic beauty in Shorter’s saxophone and the inventive, expansive rhythmic from Hancock, Carter and William still mesmerize me every time I return to these albums.

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