Artist: Miles Davis
Genre: Third Stream
To reiterate what I’ve always said: relaxing Miles Davis music will always be the best Miles Davis music. Look to Sketches of Spain for proof. Or, better yet, Porgy and Bess. Davis and Gil Evans’ adaptation of George Gershwin’s 1935 opera remains their most seamless collaboration.
Unlike Miles Ahead, there are no clear standout tracks a la “The Duke” or “My Ship” — Porgy and Bess works best when taken as a whole. Even popular standards like “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So” fit perfectly within the conceptual flow. By the time the album is over, Davis’ lyrical trumpet has told a complete story from beginning to end.
It’s easy to forget that he released this seminal classic the same year as Kind of Blue, and taken within that context, Porgy and Bess serves as a proper warm-up. There are many instances when the melancholy moods are paralleled and the modal themes are metastasized. Put together, Davis’ recorded output in 1959 redefined the possibilities of jazz itself.