The great thing about Miles Davis was that his trumpet playing was so transcendent. He's probably the only jazz player whose albums frequently appear in top 100 rock lists. I fail to see how anyone could not take the lilting sentiments of 'Porgy & Bess' to heart no matter what your musical tastes.
The 'Buzzard Song' opens the album with a grooving bass line by Paul Chambers, cleverly imitated by a tuba that follows suit (how many albums have you heard with a grooving tuba?). Then the lyrical note changes of 'Bess, You Is My Woman', before one of the highlights of the album, 'Gone'. This is something of a departure from Gershwin's opera itself, but the backing players relish the opportunity for some pure jazz playing, topped off with Jones's ramshakle drum playing. The power of 'Summertime' has much to do with its basic composition, which is at once both strong and tender and lends itself to so many interpretations. On this version the musical backing acts as a counter to Davis's elegant soloing. 'Oh Bess, where's my Bess' proves to be the most uplifting of these tracks while 'Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus)' contains character-filled contributions from all the players building to a monumental crescendo.
'Fisherman....' begins with the evocative alto flute of Danny Banks, floating above a slight air of menance in the backing arrangement. The straining lament of 'My Man's Gone Now' is followed by the great toe-tapping swing arrangement of 'It Ain't Necessarily So'. Gil Evans arrangements do much to colour Davis's trumpet playing as in 'Here Comes de Honey Man'.
The final highlight 'There's A Boat Leaving Soon For New York' sounds unstoppable and effusive, a clear joy for all involved. Each individual player becomes Miles Davis's equal in this explosive finale. Again I have to mention the universal appeal of Miles Davis's work, whether indulging in a simple, lazy melody or bringing subtle nuances to the fore, his playing is wonderfully haunting.