Miles Davis: Miles Smiles

The Songs:

  1. Orbits
  2. Circle
  3. Footprints
  4. Dolores
  5. Freedom Jazz Dance
  6. Gingerbread Boy


  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
  • Herbie Hancock – piano
  • Ron Carter – bass
  • Tony Williams – drums

Miles Smiles, recorded near the end of 1966, was the second studio album by Miles’ second great quintet. It was an unusual album for the group. In addition to Wayne Shorter’s song “Footprints,” (previously recorded under his own name on the album Adam’s Apple), the record contained two songs from composers who weren’t part of the band: Eddie Harris’ classic “Freedom Jazz Dance” and saxophonist Jimmy Heath’s “Gingerbread Boy”. It also has some unique playing from Herbie Hancock. On half of the tunes, he functions more like a third horn, playing single right hand countermelodies instead of the usual left-handed chording. In addition, unlike the material from most of the quintet’s albums, half of the songs from Miles Smiles made it into the band’s live set list: Shorter’s “Dolores” and Footprints and Heath’s Gingerbread Boy. (A concert recorded in Sweden during the tour for Miles Smiles has been released on DVD entitled Around Midnight. See below.)

The album is highlighted by strong playing from Davis, especially on his lovely ballad “Circle” and the hyperkinetic drumming of Tony Williams, who was still only 20 years old when this album was recorded. Williams’ relentlessly driving grooves are a self-contained clinic in jazz drumming. Although Miles Smiles sometimes seemed overshadowed by some of the quintet’s other releases, many regard it as the pinnacle of the groups astounding interplay, where they collectively pushed the boundaries of acoustic jazz to its limits. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Jeremy Yudkin. Miles Davis, ‘Miles Smiles’, And The Invention Of Post Bop.

Suggested Viewing:

Miles Davis. Around Midnight.