As I transition to a lower energy world and footprint, I've been letting go of some of my collections of books, records, and cds. What can I let go of, and what has enough profound importance for me to continue to hold on to? I have not yet been able to let go of any of my Miles Davis recordings. Miles' music has been a huge inspiration in my life. If I had to narrow my collection down, the last two recordings I'd let go of would be "Kind of Blue" and "Sketches of Spain."
I have no time to write reviews just now, but I came across this recent review of Sketches. Not the best review I've read, but the most recent, and I think it gets at some of the emotional impact of this great recording.
Where the smallest gestures become heroic.
by Morgana, at Broowaha
Sketches of Spain
in March 1960 following the 1959 release of the Miles Davis’ crystalline perfect Kind of Blue. I was just starting Catholic elementary school having first attended the parish nursery school. After school, I would arrive home to a house filled with an eclectic, engrossing, unapologetically romantic array of music, all due to my Italian born mother. My passionately romantic mother gave no excuses for her grasping every opportunity to escape the everyday dryness of life. For her love of romance, romantic art and romantic music, my mother often quoted Henry David Thoreau.
When I hear music, I fear no danger.
I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related
To the earliest times, and to the latest.
My mother worked hard at making the smallest gestures become heroic and making pure pleasure her only meaningful measurement. My mother was on a heroic quest and she lived at warp speed towards ecstasy and coolsville. So also did Miles Davis. Each could only trust their heart.
Miles Davis gets the bulk of the honor for Sketches of Spain. However, it is an equal praise to Gil Evans and Miles Davis. Miles Davis was born in 1926, died in 1991. That meant Miles Davis learned to play the trumpet during the frenetic 1940’s outbreak known as Bebop. It was Gil Evans that forced Miles Davis to pare his music down to the essence of only what needed to be said. It was Gil Evans that wrote “Saeta.” Miles Davis said in his autobiography that “you’ve got all those Arabic music scales in there, black African scales that you can hear. And they modulate and bend and twist and snake around.”
In Sketches of Spain, Gil Evans and Miles Davis created a lush, lavish and inviting tone poem. Listening to Sketches of Spain pulls the heart into the vibe of the shadowy and surreal Andalusian panorama. Gil Evans and Miles Davis created in Sketches of Spain one of the most beautifully orchestrated large-ensemble writing in all of jazz and a milestone of studio orchestra jazz. It is what Leonard Bernstein was talking about when he said music could, “name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.”
Other musicians on Sketches of Spain are trumpeter’s Bernie Glow, Ernie Royal, Louis Mucci, and Taft Jordan, drummer Jimmy Cobb, and percussionist Elvin Jones
Spend time inside an album such as Sketches of Spain, and deeper impressions emerge. It’s like looking at a friend one day and realizing you’re in love with them - and have been for a long time. The artist and the depth and breadth of the work’s creation are revealed. Ideas and images are threads running through great albums and great art just like with any great love. The only way to get to the intent is to take the full ride. There are great treasures at the end of that ride. Taking just one song from an album, or a color from a painting, or one moment from a love affair, means you miss the sweep and grandeur of the album, the art or the affair.
That requires patience. As I sit here again listening to Sketches of Spain, I continue to argue it’s worth it. Music like any art, and love, unfolds in real time. All speak for themselves. All are a journey. Listen intently for more than the constellations of cool sound do you encounter. That’s how music, art and love work. Not exactly what you ordered, but it works. Music, art and love both can send fantasies into warp drive, shred your illusions, magnify reality, exposes vices and vanities, bring calm to turbulence and visa versa. Not all music, art or friend/lover jumps out leaving a strong first impression. Great music and great art, like great love, takes a while to get under your skin. Once it’s there, it stays there.