On this journey, I have been introduced to a lot of new (for me) jazz music, and this is my second day in a row. Following John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, today I am back with Miles Davis for his 3rd album on my list. The current selection is “Sketches of Spain”, which is rated by gq.com as the 4th greatest jazz album of all time. Having heard two albums from Davis already, before looking closely at the title, my going-in expectation was another modest step forward in sound and style. Much to my unanticipated surprise, it was much more.
As the first track “Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio” began, I was suddenly immersed in a rich new sound, fully surrounded by flamenco and European flair. This sixteen-minute performance was something entirely different. Instead of a modest-sized jazz ensemble, this was a much larger collection of horns, both brass and woodwind, and percussion, performing a Spanish symphony with Miles’ pure and beautiful tone on trumpet. Much of the rest of the album had the same enchanting sound and feel, and I found myself wondering if Miles had spent an extended time in Spain and fell in love with the music and culture?
The truth isn’t too far off. Miles’ wife pulled him along to a performance of a Spanish dancer, and he quickly became fascinated/obsessed with Spanish flamenco music. After adding album after album of flamenco music to his personal collection, he decided to record the “Concierto de Aranjuez”, by Joaquin Rodrigo. He and his producer Gil Evans were so pleased with the results and their parallel discoveries of Spanish sound that they extended the experience to a full album of interpreted Spanish classical and folk, translated through the sound of jazz. It really is a remarkable blend of sounds, and this entire album is the perfect soundtrack for your next European evening or siesta.
Although I enjoy every day of this experience, it is hidden treasures like this performance that gives this endeavor true purpose. Miles Davis was a remarkably gifted and diverse talent, and I eagerly anticipate what else may follow…