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  Listen Up! 1/6/04 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Jan. 6

Miles Davis, “Milestones,” Columbia Records. Everybody knows “Kind of Blue,” and I’m not saying this is as good as that, but it’s the criminally ignored predecessor. Surely you don’t believe “Kind of Blue” just appeared out of thin air, do you? Miles had that same sextet together for a couple of years, and they sound great blowing through the hard bop changes on this album as they do on the sultry modal pieces of the next record. Of course, the title track points completely in the direction they were about to take, with a bouncy flare in the head that would be Miles’ theme song for years to come. My favorite of a pretty much perfect set of tunes might be “Billy Boy,” the old chestnut turned into a hard-driving jazz masterpiece by these incredible solos from Davis and Coltrane.

World Saxophone Quartet featuring Jack DeJohnette, “Selim Sivad: A Tribute To Miles Davis,” Justin Time Records. This came out a few years ago, and is a treasure trove of saxophone beauty. The WSQ doesn’t bother to ape the most familiar Miles tunes, and even when they play ones you know, they get far away from the way you remember them. But, who cares, this is gorgeous stuff, with Bluiett, Murray, and Lake joined by John Purcell, along with DeJohnette on drums, and a three other percussionists. As always, the imaginations are on fire with these guys.

--Steve Pick

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