My Favorites (Jazz): "All of You" - Miles Davis
I first bought this recording as a cassette tape when I was binge buying to expand my jazz library. This is one of those recordings you love to drop on newbies to jazz so that their ears can be blown away with the newness of this music. Back then I was the newbie. My ears were most certainly blown upon listening to this recording and as a musician I still endeavor to reach this level of musicianship.
All of the pieces from this 1964 live recording at the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in NYC have the same adventurous approach with the rhythm section of Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams changing rhythms and grooves within each song creating a variety of moods all within each piece. They shift from playing a ballad to a heavy swing, then on to a Latin shuffle beat, and then back to a heavy swing. You feel well-traveled once each song has ended.
The song that grabbed me the most was “All of You.” This is to me one of Herbie Hancock’s best solo’s and his classical chops are on full display here. There is a point in his solo were he uses a contrasting ascending and descending scale with the left hand going down and the right hand going up. The piano is not my main instrument but I understand the rudiments and when soloing in jazz most piano players will use either a “comping” style where the left hand holds down the chords and the right hand solos, or they will use block chords where the left hand is following the right with the chords. Because Herbie is classically trained his soloing incorporates his classical technique and this part of his solo definitely reflects that approach.
I remember listening to Herbie build his solo over a couple choruses and then at a climatic point he plays this contrasting scale and I went nuts. That’s the beauty of jazz. When a musician uses several techniques and conventions and just when you think you’ve heard all they can do, they come up with something totally new that makes your jaw drop and shows you the depth of their musicianship.
I of course love all the solos on this recording. George Coleman’s melodic and fluid playing is perfect for this group. Miles of course displays his iconic sound and swings effortlessly. Although this particular configuration with George Coleman was not together long, Miles brought in Wayne Shorter and that group is heralded as one of Miles Davis’ best lineups.
Make sure you listen to the recording several times because so much is happening you can never get it all in just one pass. It’s very similar to a piece of art, you have to come to it numerous times before you can grasp the finer details.
You can listen to the recording here: http://www.milesdavis.com/us/node/191