Miles Davis: We Want Miles

The Songs:

  1. Jean Pierre
  2. Back Seat Betty
  3. Fast Track (aka Aïda)
  4. Jean Pierre
  5. My Man’s Gone Now
  6. Kix

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis – trumpet, electric piano
  • Bill Evans – soprano saxophone
  • Mike Stern – guitar
  • Marcus Miller – bass
  • Al Foster – drums
  • Mino Cinelu – percussion

After an almost six-year hiatus from recording and performing, Miles Davis returned to the music scene in 1981 with his comeback album, The Man With The Horn. He subsequently decided he was ready to start performing live again. In order to prepare for lengthier tours and concerts, Miles booked his band for a few nights at a small Boston club called Kix in late June of 1981. In early July, he also played two shows for the Kool Jazz Festival in New York City. These were followed by a short tour of Japan in early October. Miles’ label, Columbia Records, was fearful that Miles might quit playing again, so a recording crew followed the band and taped every concert appearance. Some of these recordings were compiled and released in 1982 as We Want Miles, his first live album since 1975’s Agharta and Pangaea.

On We Want Miles, Davis’ trumpet chops show that he was still a little weak from taking five years off from the horn, but that he was still one of the most gifted musicians around. As usual, he surrounded himself with a sizzling band. Al Foster was a holdover from Miles’ last group in the 70’s. He and Marcus Miller, along with versatile percussionist Mino Cinelu, formed a tight rhythm section that could hold down the funkiest grooves. Along with Miles, the solo space went to Bill Evans and the scorching guitar lines of Mike Stern.

The album opens with the childlike melody of “Jean Pierre,” which was to be one of Miles’ most popular songs of his comeback period. A shorter version from another show is included later in the album. This is followed by two cuts from The Man With The Horn: “Back Seat Betty” and “Aïda,” which was slightly revamped and retitled “Fast Track.” One of the albums highlights, though is the almost half-hour workout on Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now,” which Davis originally recorded with Gil Evans over twenty years earlier on 1958’s Porgy and Bess. Miles rarely looked backwards during his remarkable career. The rhythm section even shifts into a walking bass, straight ahead swing groove for portions of the song. The album is rounded out with Kix, a tribute to the club where Miles made his return. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Franck Bergerot & Vincent Bessieres. We Want Miles: Miles Davis Vs. Jazz.

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