JJ 05/73: Miles Davis – On The Corner

Fifty years ago, Ron Brown heard Miles Davis spit a nasty note or two into the rhythmic wodge and thought it was time to get off. First published in Jazz Journal May 1973

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They do say that Miles is living on advances from Columbia, so high has his life-style become, and that he feels compelled to make records frequently whether he has any ideas or not; this would explain the existence of this very poor LP rather neatly.

The form is very similar to ‘Live/Evil’, in that the various instruments provide a complex rhythmic web as a backdrop for solos, only on this occasion there’s much less variety of texture and mood, and despite the different track titles, it sounds merely as if the band had selected a chord and decided to worry hell out of it for three-quarters of an hour.

Also, the solos are practically non-existent; Miles wanders over to spit a nasty note or two into the rhythmic wodge every now and again, like he did on his last visit to London, and the long stretches of aggressively exciting electric trumpet that we heard on ‘Live/Evil’ become things of the past as Miles sinks himself almost completely into the rhythm section. Garnett occa­sionally surfaces in a similar way, and without using a stop-watch I’d guess that he actually plays more than Miles does.

Miles was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying that this album is in­tended for ‘the black people’ to remem­ber him by, and the advertising by CBS uses this as a point of departure (see the back cover of the March JJ); that of course is something I can’t judge, but I’d like to think that nobody could be so easily pleased as to dig this record to any extent. I think Miles is the greatest, but it looks as if this is where I get off.

Discography
On The Corner; New York Girl; Thinkin’ One Thing And Doin’ Another; Vote For Miles; Black Satin (20½ min) – One And One; Helen Butte; Mr Freedom X (29½  min)
Miles (tpt); Carlos Garnett (ten/sop); Collin Walcott (el-sitar); David Creamer (el-gtr); Herbie Hancock, Harold I. Williams (el-pno); Michael Henderson (bs-gtr); Jack DeJohnette (dm); James Mtume (perc); Roy Badal (tabla). NYC, 1972.
(CBS 65246 £2.17)