My Favorites (Jazz): "Straight No Chaser" – Miles Davis

In honor of Miles Davis’ birthday here is a review of another one of my favorite Miles Davis’ recordings:

When I first started to learn the blues one of the albums I went to was the Milestones album my parents had.  I listened to “Straight No Chaser” I don’t know how many times and was blown away by all of the solos on this recording.  Cannonball Adderly starts out with ridiculous technique in his solo and I realized that at my early stage of learning that there was no reason for me to even try to learn his solo.  Miles’ solo was more approachable and there are some real hip and soulful phrases in his playing.  When Coltrane comes in he tears into his “sheets of sound” and I knew that that solo too was out of reach for me at that time.  

Paul Chamber’s solo is of course a standout as well.  He is one of the few bass players of that era to completely adapt the bebop approach to the bass and you can hear his lines just like he was playing a horn.  

Red Garland’s piano solo however is the one that stood out for me from this recording.  Besides the ridiculous amount of bounce and swing in his playing, there is something that he does at the end that sparked my curiosity.  He does his characteristic block chords to end his solo but there was something else about this solo.  I kept rewinding it back and listening to see where I have heard this before.  Then it dawned on me.  This was a note for note quote of Miles Davis’ solo on the “Now’s The Time” recording when he was 19 years old playing with Charlie Parker.   

Not only is a complete quotation but Red Garland harmonized it and put block chords to the solo.  I was needless to say floored at this point.  The level of musicianship that it takes to not only learn the solo, re-harmonize it, then flawlessly throw it in at that speed, at the end of your solo while in a recording session, is without question mind-blowing.  

Give it a listen and hear for yourself and leave your comments below.

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