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Miles Davis - Live Evil: patchy, but occasionally sublime.
on 11 January 2005
Part live, part studio, the Live Evil album contains some of the best experimentation Miles' electronic circus put together.
'Sivad' is awesome: with a phat back-beat and bass-line (Michael Henderson, previously with Stevie Wonder). Airto Moreira's cuica adds colour. The piece morphs, via psychedelic guitar and keys into a stop/start groove, on which the band simmers for 10 minutes.
'Little Church', 'Selim' and 'Nem Um Talvez' are all similar, and feature Hermeto Pascaol, who adds to the Brazilian tinge. These pieces are mellow, with whistling and vocals following the long delicate trumpet lines. These are some of the best cuts on the album; sparse and magical.
'What I Say' is as hard and funky as Miles got. He was listening to Rock, Soul and Funk, and those influences are never clearer than here. John McLaughlin's guitar is fabulous, Miles gets something different from him again (compare this with his contribution to 'In A Silent Way', or his own Mahavishnu stuff). Miles briefly states the theme at the end, but it's a completely different beast; jazz, but with funk and rock in it's veins.
'Gemini/Double Image' is a spacey jam, with freedom of form and content; scratchy guitar, bubbling percussion, and far-out synths. Miles was evidently taking notes at the Santana gigs he'd been attending. 'Inamorata', is similar, it's a long (almost half an hour), sprawling live piece, with some rather dated narration near the end.
A patchy album, and not always an easy listen ('Funky Tonk', a great name, shame it veers towards free jazz cacophony), but it's still essential Miles, and in places, unique and inspiring.