Miles Davis: Music From “Siesta”

The Songs:

  1. Lost In Madrid, Pt. 1
  2. Siesta / Kitt’s Kiss / Lost In Madrid, Pt. 2
  3. Theme For Augustine / Wind / Seduction / Kiss
  4. Submission
  5. Lost In Madrid, Pt. 3
  6. Conchita / Lament
  7. Lost In Madrid, Pt. 4 / Rat Dance / The Call
  8. Claire / Lost In Madrid, Pt. 5
  9. Afterglow
  10. Los Feliz

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Marcus Miller – keyboards, guitar, bass, bass clarinet
  • Jason Miles – keyboards, keyboard programming
  • John Scofield – acoustic guitar (“Siesta”)
  • Earl Klugh – classical guitar (“Claire”)
  • Omar Hakim – drums, percussion (“Siesta”)
  • James Walker – flute (“Los Feliz”)

Although Miles had previously been involved in film soundtracks, (1958’s Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud and 1971’s A Tribute To Jack Johnson), his comeback decade of the 1980’s saw him involved in the soundtracks for five films: Street Smart, Scrooged, Dingo, The Hot Spot, and Siesta.

Siesta, which starred Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, and Isabella Rossellini, (along with appearances by Jodie Foster, Julian Sands, Martin Sheen, and Grace Jones), was an artsy thriller which was panned by critics and bombed at the box office. The film was set and shot in Spain. During editing, the director used Miles’ earlier collaboration with Gil Evans, Sketches Of Spain, as a temporary soundtrack. When the rights to use it for the theatrical release could not be secured, Miles was contacted about providing some new music. Davis called up Marcus Miller, who had composed the tracks for Miles’ Grammy-winning album Tutu. A couple of songs were recorded and submitted before Miller realized that he was expected to provide the entire soundtrack and only had a couple of weeks to write and record it.

With the exception of Theme For Augustine, (which was co-composed with Miles), the entire soundtrack was composed by Miller, often on the fly while recording tracks to the video in the studio, with the help of synth programming wizard Jason Miles. After basic cue tracks were laid down, Davis would add a trumpet part. The album is obviously influenced by Gil Evans and Sketches Of Spain, but with a more modern sound, due to the heavy use of synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines. (In fact, the album was dedicated to Gil Evans.)

Perhaps because of the film’s failure, the soundtrack album has often been overlooked. However, it stands as some of Miles’ finest work during his final decade. Miller’s evocative score created dreamy, atmospheric backdrops for Miles’ open horn to play against. (Buy it here).

Suggested Reading:

Miles Davis & Quincy Troupe. Miles: The Autobiography.

Suggested Viewing:

Siesta.

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