Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith – Yo Miles! Lightning + Yo Miles! Shinjuku

January 01, 1970





Experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser and jazz
trumpeter/educator Wadada Leo Smith began their Yo Miles! project some thirteen
years ago as a way to pay tribute to innovator Miles Davis’ still-controversial
late 60s/early 70s electric period. Though the main thrust on the three LPs the
project produced was reinterpretations of Davis’
music, the duo did create some original tunes, which are collected on these
digital-only collections. The concert recording “Miles Dewey Davis III – Great
Ancestor,” from Lightning, is a good
example of the band’s approach – the percussion roils, Kaiser burns (his distinctive
gnarly psychedelia fits in well here) and Smith wails with an aggressive tone
his idol rarely displayed. It’s a direction pursued on the entire CD, which
rarely lets up in intensity. It almost all sounds like one long track, but it’s
difficult to imagine getting sick of it before the end.


While Lightning puts particular emphasis on the acid funk that drove Davis’ landmark Bitches Brew and On the
LPs, Shinjuku swirls in
more of the pioneering ambient textures of In
a Silent Way
and his later fusion records. The title track is a near
perfect marriage of improvisation jazz funk and non-electronic ambience, while
“Who’s Been Targeted?” drifts out into the ether (maybe a little too far out)
before resolving into a bluesy progression with slide guitar. “Miles Star” is
the most distinctive track, if only for its more contemplative, overtly jazzy
tone – if Miles had recorded for the ECM label, this is what it would have
sounded like. Yo Miles! is at its strongest when emulating Miles’ compositional/improvisational
spirit, rather than covering his work, which makes these collections essential
for fans of jazz fusion.


DOWNLOAD:  “Miles Dewey Davis III – Great Ancestor,” “Shinjuku,”

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