In Person at the Blackhawk, San Francisco
In April, 1961, Miles Davis and his band took the stage for a two-night gig at the packed Blackhawk Club in San Francisco. At the time it might have seemed like a routine performance for the band, but in retrospect the seven sets recorded are absolute jewels. Davis's interpretive skills on the trumpet were arguably at the highest level of his career. His band --- Hank Mobley, tenor saxophone; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums --- was among the best he would ever assemble. And his repertoire, which included tunes like "Oleo," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Fran Dance," "On Green Dolphin Street," and "'Round Midnight," can only be viewed as quintessential Miles.
Past releases of this material were cherished but incomplete. Now it's all here in the order it unfolded, on four discs, with a dozen previously unreleased tracks. Among these are beautiful renditions of "I Thought About You" and "Someday My Prince Will Come." Davis and Mobley turn in wonderful extended solos on cuts like "So What," and Kelly threatens to steal the show every time he opens up at the piano. Throughout the sets, Chambers and Cobb demonstrate the art of holding it together while sustaining the intense spirit and energy in the air on those two nights.
--- Ron Netsky
DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid with Mad Professor and Lee 'Scratch' Perry
Dubtometry's beginning looks straight back at classic Black Ark Jamaica; and there's Lee Perry, completely incoherent, sending smoke signals. DJ Goo's remix takes on street sounds, paranoid spoken word, and a Joe McPhee pocket-trumpet line that's run through some sort of device that triples its tonal value. It sounds like a really funky, scary Henry Mancini number. Speaking of Joe McPhee, the Twilight Circus's "Variation Cybernetique rmx" also features his beautiful tone, and it's another outstandingly jazzy and moody track. As the disc goes on, the tracks move into slamming beats and noise that seem endlessly prismatic, or just plain endless.
--- Dave Cross