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Album review: 'Electric Miles'

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Charles Pillow Large Ensemble

"Electric Miles"

MAMA Records

charlespillow.com

Over his long and varied career, Miles Davis recorded several seminal jazz orchestra albums in collaboration with the great arranger Gil Evans. Those disciplined affairs ("Sketches of Spain" and others) were in stark contrast to Miles's wild, improvised, "electric" period that produced records like "Bitches Brew." Charles Pillow Large Ensemble's "Electric Miles" brilliantly fuses these two aspects of Miles's oeuvre with gorgeous big band arrangements of tunes from "Bitches Brew," "Jack Johnson," and "In a Silent Way."

Featured soloists Tim Hagans and Clay Jenkins ably take on Miles's role on trumpet while Pillow takes flight on alto sax and alto flute. Dave Liebman, who participated in the original sessions a half-century ago, contributes soaring soprano sax solos on "Yesternow" and "Black Satin." All of the soloists, including Michael Davis (trombone) and Luke Norris (tenor sax), are outstanding, but the stars here are Pillow's arrangements, with beautiful voicings on more subtle tunes like "Sanctuary" and a powerful punch on compositions like "Pharaoh's Dance."

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