Classic Rock

Miles Davis

Rubberband / The Lost Quintet

- ian Fortnam

Columbia/Sleepy Night Two lost albums to expand jazz visionary’s legacy.

Not so much lost as shelved, Rubberband

(9/10) should have been Miles’s first album for Warners, in ’85, following a 30-year stint with Columbia, but Tommy Lipuma (Warners’ head of jazz) “didn’t hear anything”, so Rubberband was dropped and Miles set to work on Tutu.

Lipuma’s shortsight­edness aside, Rubberband is an extraordin­ary 11-track distillati­on of raw urban vitality that recaptures and resets the dizzying conversati­onal street energy of 1972’s On The Corner at the cutting edge of 80s soul. Driving instrument­al Give It Up might be reminiscen­t of the brazen staccato funk of Prince’s Black Album, but the former predates the latter’s recording, raising a question of who exactly was informing whose art as old master Miles sought pop relevance and young pretender Prince artistic depth. Vocals originally meant for Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan are handled, with slick aplomb, by Ledisi and Lalah Hathaway. Whether The Lost Quintet

(7/10), recorded live for radio broadcast in ‘69, was ever meant to be found and released is debatable, but its historical importance and sheer potency is beyond question. Contempora­neous to the recording of Bitches Brew, Davis’s touring quintet – Chick Corea (piano), Wayne Shorter (sax), Dave Holland (bass) and Jack De Johnette (drums) – seeth with avant-garde invention, as Miles (the Hendrix of the horn) searches for notes that probably don’t exist. Of its four tracks the sustained, 25-minute-plus assault on Shorter’s Sanctuary is the sonic equivalent of a descent into the maelstrom.

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