Karl J. Geisler...
Posted on hey-joe, volume 19980409
Date:Tue, 11 Jan 1994 12:42:00 CST
From: Bill Montin
In the late sixties there was "a storm a brewing" pulling jazz and
rock towards one another and the eye of this storm was Miles Davis.
By being intrigued by the sounds that Joe Zawinful (Cannonball
Adderly's piano player) was getting from his Fender-Rhodes piano he
demanded that Herbie Hancock feature the Rhodes and that Ron Carter
switch to electric bass. Carter balked and walked (Hancock was less
than ecstatic about the idea) so Miles hired Chick Corea and flew in
a bass player from England named Dave Holland. Holland brought over
with him a tape of a guitar player that could easily move between pop,
blues, rock and jazz and that had musically grown up with jazz-rock
players such as Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Not long afterwards
John Mclaughlin arrived in New York courtesy of drummer Tony Williams
All this time Miles and Jimi and been circling and brushing up
against each other from a distance. Hendrix was a little more than
intimitated by Miles and Miles had a bone to pick with Jimi concerning
his new wife Betty and the attraction that both she and Jimi had for
each other. Betty hatched up a party and in which Jimi and Miles were
supposed to a recording session but Miles was conveniently absent
when it came off even though he did leave Jimi a piece that he had
sketched out (Jimi couldn't make head nor tails of it, he couldn't read
Nevertheless the ingrediants for the brew were being added to the pot
in the form of a jamming society that revolved around the twin axes of
Miles and Hendrix. Larry Coryell (who was foolish enough to get in a
cutting contest with Hendrix..."Coryell played all over the place for
about ten minutes racing up and down the fret-board and Jimi steps up
for his solo and went 'ba-WO-O-O-OWWWW' erasing everything he did in
the last ten minutes with one note.....it was silly for him to even
try, liking walking into a blowtorch.....the fool" Robert Wyatt of
Soft Machine....anyway back to the story), Buddy Miles, John McLaughlin,
Tony Williams, Dave Holland, Steve Winwood, Jack De Johnette, Mitch
Mitchell, Jack Bruce and Larry Young. McLaughlin was invited to the
sessions wHi(t)ch would become "In a Silent Way" where his guitar would
become an alternate center to Miles trumpet even though the album was
dominated by the three pianos of Hancock, Corea, and Zawinful. This
lineup culminated in "Bitches Brew" and was similarily heavy on the
keyboards although Larry Young took Hancocks place. An album that not
only dominated the jazz charts but ate the pop charts alive.
Williams, Young, and McLaughlin formed Lifetime. Jack Bruce toured
along with Coryell and Mitchell while Jimi played with the Band of
Gypsys (he also augmented Lifetime, albeit breifly, in '70).
However Miles and Jimi remained apart.
Alan Douglas (spits with disqust....don't start me talkin) teamed up
Buddy Miles and John McLaughlin for McLaughlin's album "Devotion" and
had been plotting with Gil Evans (the arranger for Miles "Birth of
Cool", "Miles Ahead", "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain") to
bring together Miles, Hendrix, Tony Williams, and Evan's own orchestra.
Work was to begin in 1970 in the form of rehearsals for a live album
which was to be recorded at Carnegie Hall, a week before startup.......
Jimi died. Gil Evans did eventually record a concert in 1974 with
Ryo Kawasaki and John Abercrombie **attempting** to fill the shoes
of the master in which was titled "Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music
of Jimi Hendrix". It is perhaps the closest indication of what would
have happened if Jimi would have realized this dream, granted the
inadequacies of the two artists (which weren't bold enough to abandon
the notes and enter the realms of pure sound, can you say Sonny
Jimi's untimely death unleashed a spectre (along with the still living
demons of James Brown and Sly Stone) on Miles recordings in the 70's.
Across both "Jack Johnson" and "Agharta" we see the three combined
in the form of Robert Johnson's hellhound. On "Jack Johnson" Hendrix
allusions dominate "Right Off" and "Yesternow" from start to finish.
>From Billy Cobhams muscular R&B drums (a young Buddy Miles with
technique) to John McLaughlins fierce, snappy Wah-Wah riffs to Sonny
Sharrocks closing sections on "Yesternow" where he unleashes a sea of
feedback that drifts ominously through the music.
But it is with "Agharta" that we get as fans the most explicit
understanding of what might have happened if Miles and Jimi had gone
into the studio together. Jimi haunts "Agharta" from beginning to end
and Miles invokes him ceaselessly through both the two guitarists and
his own wah-wah drenched trumpet and organ. Pete Cosey (one of the
guitarists) represents Jimi's ornamatic, poetic guitar improvisation
side while Reggie Lucas (the other guitarist) represents Jimi's soul,
funk, and R&B side. Here Miles both grapples with and mourns Jimi by
playing solos over the 4-sides of the album that are simultaneously
laconic and eloguent, sobbing unashamebly, without even the slightest
hint of sentimentaly. If you want to know what Miles thaught of Jimi
go no further than this album, everything you need to know is on "Agarta".
Ref: Crosstown Traffic --- Charles Shaar Murray
Skuse Me While I Kiss the Sky --- David Henderson
Electric Gypsy --- Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek
Inside the Experience -- Mitch Mitchell
Jerry Hopkins -- Hit and Run