The Musings Of Miles

_Musing_and_Tequila

The Preample:

Tequila!  The drink, not the record.

First off, my wife noticed I’ve been using the nonsensical word “preample”  instead of the correct “preamble”.  Oh well, at least I got “postamble” right.

I decided to use Discog’s Random Item button to select a LP for tonight and the rand() gods gave me The Musings of Miles, a six song jazz recorded June 7, 1955 by a quartet fronted by Miles DavisOscar Pettiford on bass, Philly Joe Jones on skins, Red Garland on piano and of course Miles on trumpet.  The Obi says something about this being the forerunner of the Miles Davis Quintet.  Originally released on Prestige, this is the 1982 reissue from Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series.

After I took the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some Thin Lizzy and Lenny Kravitz while sipping on 1800 Reposado.  With Miles coming up, who says that jazz and tequila don’t mix?

The Record:

Artist: Miles Davis

Title: The Musings Of Miles

Label: “Original Jazz Series” / Prestige…and distributed by Fantasy

Year: 1982 OJC reissue, originally pressed in 1955

Catalog: OJC-004 / P-7007

Country: USA

Notes: Great condition record.  The cover’s a solid VG+, just a few weird orange spots on the back jacket away from a NM grade.  Side 1 is mint and if it wasn’t for a very lite scuff/scratch on the flipside it would be a NM record.  As it stands, giving it a VG+.  It’s got the original shrink wrap and Obi.  The Obi states the original price of $5.98.  There are two dated price stickers; $4.99 in December 1985 and $2.99 in February 1986.  Some record store really really needed to clear some shelf space for those indestructible CDs everyone wanted I guess.

I don’t know the full arrangement between Fantasy’s OJC series and the original labels, but there seems to be quite a bit of Prestige reissues in this series.  I tend to stick with the older OJC pressings with the OBIs as the new, sealed ones have Scorpio written over them.  This old one’s got George Horn’s initials in the deadwax, so it’s legit.   Who knows what’s on the newer ones.  One day my curiosity will peak and I’ll grab one.

Oh yeah…although not listed anywhere on the record, its mono.

Matrix:

Side 1 – OJC 004 A-T1- T1 GH

Side 2 – OJC 004 B-T1- T1 GH

Mastering: George Horn

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/1454556

The Accompaniment: 

I work with an associate in Mexico City which brings me a bottle of reposado every time he’s in Toronto, which is one or twice a year.   I’m not going to lie; it’s a nice fringe benefit.  Tequila’s not overly expensive in Toronto, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes for $2 in Mexico.  Who knows?

I’m admittedly not a big tequila drinker.  Tequila conjures up memories of the Spew Crew back in college when tequila poppers and puking twice in a night was the norm.

I won’t be popping this tequila.  This stuff is really really good.  From what I gather, “reposado” is akin to a VSOP.  This one’s called 1800.  Never heard of it before, but its 100% de agave and sipping it neat reveals character and complexity (this is not the shit you lick-shot-sucked back in college).  This is my third time imbibing this spirit and it’s enough to get me perusing the tequila aisle at the LCBO next time I’m there.  Who knows…maybe even spring for a bottle of Don Julio Añejo?

The Listen: 

I drop the needle and the record makes barely a peep as Miles leads the band into an up-tempo jazzy beat called Will You Still Be Mine?  Although not outlined anywhere on the release, it’s no surprise that the recording is in mono.  All the instruments shine through clearly and after a few minutes Miles takes a break for Red Garland’s first solo.  It’s an objectively quick one before Miles takes back the lead and finishes off the song.  It’s hard not to be impressed with how great it sounds.  Although the record is about 30 years old, we’re talking about a recording that happened about 60 years ago!

Between the songs its whisper quiet…CD quiet.  I See Your Face Before Me opens with a subdued pace, all thick, smokey and shit.  Mile’s horn sounds like it may have one of those mufflers on it…another piano solo backed by the rhythm section keeps the mood going.  The bass has a great depth of sound, with each note nourishing my speakers with sustain.  Great pressing!  The last song on the A side is another bop beat called I Didn’t.  It plays along with a bit too much urgency for my tastes; not a bad tune but not a great one neither.  The horn and bass still sound great though…and another piano solo…will Oscar or Philly Joe ever get a chance to shine?  That said, it is my favorite of Red’s 3 solos so far…this song is starting to grow on me.

Drum solo!  Well, not really…just some interplay between Miles and Philly Joe.  That was cool and I wish it lasted longer.  The song and side ends and not a click tick or pop to be heard!

I make a mess of cuing the tone arm for the second side and it harmlessly rolls off the record.  Let me try that again.  Second time’s a charm but it doesn’t take long for the first sign of surface noise to be heard.  A very light tic is occurring with each record revolution, localized at the right speaker throughout the whole first song.  A Gal In Calico is a mid-tempo number with Red getting his hands dirty with a fourth solo on four songs.  Although not as complex as the others it has a fun feel to it.  The clicking is still audible as the song fades out, and it’s all but disappeared by the time the second song; A Night In Tunisia starts up.

ANIT opens with a bass solo backed with a marimba or some instrument like that.  This beat’s definitely different.  I like it, it almost has a kitschy 60’s soundtrack vibe to it and it’s actually my favorite Miles trumpeting so far.  By now the record’s completely silent again…looks like it’s just the first track on this side.   That said, a stray pop rings out right before Miles hits a few high notes that segues to another Red solo.  It’s an interesting solo, re-channeling itself making it seem like 2 solos in one.  Philly Joe’s drum work really adds to the ANIT’s cool factor.  The song takes on a North African jazz beat right before the song meanders to a close.  This is the closest we’ve come to a bass solo thus far.

Green Haze is a thick and hazy song.  It’s the first song to open with a piano solo, giving this one a dimension of its own.  By now I’m fully marinated in tequila and truly love the beat.  The song goes thru a slight change in pace and back again…or did I imagine it?  And then there it is!  Oscar’s first solo!  And it’s an awesome one.  It hits all the right notes and I wish it goes on longer.  The solo ends and so does the song shortly after.  My favorite on the LP.

The Postamble:

Although the jazz style played on this record does not hit my jazz sweet spot, there was enough variation to make it a worthwhile listen.  The recording, mastering and pressing are all top notch.  It makes you wonder how it compares to the recent Analogue Productions reissue now that the masters are another 30 years older.  My favorite tunes A Night In Tunisia and Green Haze.  Although Miles Davis and Red Garland were great, I would have liked a few more solos by the rhythm section.

Tonight’s accompaniment was great.  I can definitely see myself branching out to fine tequilas in the future, although with hot summer weather around the corner I should learn how to make a daiquiri.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

Freedom Flight

shuggieOban

The Preample:

Caught the recent Shuggie Otis show a few weeks back, The Phoenix in Toronto.  And I’m glad I did, I knew I was going to watch an old cat, but the dude shows up with his brother and son and all his shit was produced back in the day by his dad.  So cool.  Cool is what I thought he sounded like the first time I heard him.  Probably never would have heard of Shuggie if it wasn’t for the internets and torrents.  There are some major pluses to digital music and stumbling on this guy was one of them for sure.  So the recent show obviously obligated me to give this one a spin, Freedom Flight.

This is one hep record for sure.  I usually throw it on whenever someone requests “you pick” and its funk/soul blues rock melodies will always get approving nods.  I’ve got two copies of this one; a second US pressing and the semi-recent Sony 180g reissue.  Gonna spin the vintage platter.  A bit of noise here and there, but this record’s as old as me so I won’t fuss.

The Record:

Artist: Shuggie Otis

Title: Freedom Flight

Label: Epic

Year: I’m going to guess 1973…original pressing was ’71.

Catalog: E 30752

Country: USA

Notes: The covers got a bit of ring wear and fuzzed up sides.  A slight seam split on the bottom, but the spine is the cleanest of the 3 and legible.  The record labels are orange Epic so definitely not original pressing but definitely a second.  Both sides have minor visible marks with the first side looking cleanest, a solid VG+ record.  The original sleeve with some kind of “Epic Times” newsletter is in great condition.

Matrix:

Side 1 – PAL 30752 1-C

Side 2 – PBL 30752 1-C

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/3929165

The Accompaniment: 

Sipped on something special tonight.  Polished off a bottle of some west highland single malt which my wife graciously gave me this past Christmas.  According to the label, Oban used vintages 14 years or older.  There’s an immediate nose when you uncork this mofo, even with only 3-4 inches left in the bottle!  The only thing better is its taste.   Honey on your tongue.  I try and hold the sip on my tongue for a whole minute in a miserly fashion, trying to extract every last second of pleasure before a smooth finish delivers the enjoyable burn.  I don’t think I can wait till Christmas for my next bottle of Oban.

The Listen:

Ice Cold opens up the first side in full funk mode.  So fucking pleasing to the ears…ear sex.  The record stays nice and quiet, letting the center vocals and right chimes come through nice and clear.  As expected the guitar is front and center, with the drums behind Shuggie.  I get lost in the song’s goodness and don’t notice until Strawberry Letter 23 begins.  Another great opening full of shit going on…Shuggie’s credited with all the instruments on this one, a One Man Fucking Band he is!  The bells (sleigh bells?), organ, bass…this song’s a real treat.  A little knob twisting at the end is making everything go psychedelic.  I’m tripping out!  The song ends and I get the first taste of surface noise (focused in the right speaker) between tracks.

Sweet Thang unveils a meandering guitar riff with the surface noise still evident.  The song flows into a blues jam and the noise dies off.  This jam is slow and twisty with the solos crystal clear and intoxicating.  Dunbar (Ansley not Sly) on the skins btw.  Me And My Woman starts with Shuggie harvesting a funk bass line, blues guitar and a jazz piano, all the while porn guitar music streaming out of the right speaker.  For the uninitiated, this is Muther Effing Fusion.  The right channel noise returns as the song dies and into the start of Someone’s Always SingingSAS has a nice balanced mix, Shuggie and the backup vocals centered with his guitar coming out of the left speaker.  The background solos sound great, as does Sly and Shuggie’s solos.  I close my eyes for Shuggie’s last solo as the song ends with some flute.

This side has a bit of surface noise, bearable but of course showed up during the quiet moments.  Side two only has two songs.  Purple is another pure blues number, with incredibly phat bass and a snare that draws you to the Shuggie solos.  Supe shows up with a harmonica solo and this shit’s just oozing cool.  So cool in fact that Shuggie drops a bass solo.  Wicked!  Not a short one either!  Next up is a Shuggie guitar solo that’s marked with a bit of surface noise.  This one’s over 60 seconds and finishes with a cool drum roll.

The last song is the title track, Freedom Flight.  The song starts with chimes battling surface noise on the right speaker.  Shuggie’s guitars comes in and the song has an almost “new world” feel to it.  It’s a quiet song at the moment and the right channel noise is starting to irritate.  There’s cool shit coming from every direction…sax, chimes (metal & wood I believe), bass, cymbals…sounds like a band warming up.  I’m wondering where this sonic wonderland is heading.  Dunbar finally starts something on his kit and the rest of the instruments fall into line.  There’s a crazy phat bass mixed into this tune and the sax solo sounds like spiritual jazz at times.  Next it’s Shuggie’s turn to solo his guitar over a floor of sound.  The solo is more doodling then playing, but it fits just right within the song’s atmosphere.  The song enters a quiet passage and the record holds up, which is good cuz there’s some crazy psychedelic shit going on when the oboe takes off.  The solo ends and the jam returns with a bass line leading.  I sit here motionless and slack jawed for a good 30+ seconds, mesmerized by the sound.

Wow.

The Postamble:

That was fun.  I’m usually playing this one for folks and rarely get to sit back and critically listen.  Five stars.  I really should play the 180g reissue right after for a shot out.  Not today, but let it be said that I’ve conducted some quasi-shootouts between the ’73 and recent pressing and the differences were minute.  Don’t hesitate to grab the reissue!  I’m good unless a Yellow Epic label falls into my lap.

Oban, how I love thee.  If you’re looking to impress me on my next visit (or just burying relatives), have some on hand.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.