Miles Ahead

Artist: Miles Davis

Year: 1957

Genre: Third Stream

As much as I love the avant-fusion of Bitches Brew and On the Corner, relaxing Miles Davis music will always be the best Miles Davis music. Look to Kind of Blue for proof. Or Miles Ahead, the trumpeter’s second collaboration with arranger Gil Evans, in which he trades his trumpet for a flugelhorn.

A seamless combination of cool jazz and classical, Miles Ahead is one of Davis’ greatest achievements. It’s a quiet masterpiece; one that requires close concentration and patient attention, not the type of album to grab you by the balls. Davis’ flugelhorn is softer and subtler than his occasionally piercing trumpet, and it perfectly complements the peaceful and undisturbed nature of the music.

It’s amazing that such a hushed sound could come from such a large ensemble (20 musicians).

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Original Miles Ahead album cover. Davis reportedly was furious: “Why’d you put that white bitch on there?”

The opener, “Springsville,” is a perfect synthesis of Third Stream music—simultaneously swinging and symphonic, jazz and classical indistinguishable from each other and blended together in an inseparable solution. It is a perfect introduction to Miles’ at-the-time newest genre innovation.

But the term “Third Stream” doesn’t even begin to paint an accurate depiction of the music—the only genre on display here is that of Miles Davis himself; man, myth and legend.

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