Customer Reviews


20 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Class of its Own
Of the handful of albums Miles made with the composer/arranger Gil Evans, Porgy and Bess may or may not be the best, but it’s in a class of its own. The music of Gershwin’s groundbreaking folk-jazz opera inspired Evans to some of his most imaginative scoring, drawing a rich tapestry of sounds and effects from a jazz orchestra which, with the more traditional...
Published on 4 Mar. 2003 by MikeG

versus
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good
Bought this for my husband as he is a Miles Davis fan & also likes songs from Porgy & Bess but he was extremely disappointed with the arrangements of the songs.
Published 23 months ago by Janb


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Class of its Own, 4 Mar. 2003
By 
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
Of the handful of albums Miles made with the composer/arranger Gil Evans, Porgy and Bess may or may not be the best, but it’s in a class of its own. The music of Gershwin’s groundbreaking folk-jazz opera inspired Evans to some of his most imaginative scoring, drawing a rich tapestry of sounds and effects from a jazz orchestra which, with the more traditional big band instrumentation, blends the additional colouring of tuba, French horns and flutes. On many of the tracks the orchestrations seem to take precedence over Miles’s solos, and some of the material (like “Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess”) lends itself more to “interpretation” than to jazz improvisation as such. So it’s an album that will appeal most to those listeners who are as interested in Evans’s work as in that of Miles the soloist.
At its best, though, the collaboration between Miles and the orchestrations produces some wonderful music. The masterpiece is “Summertime”, which reconstructs the famous operatic lullaby using a gospel-style ‘call and response’ structure. Over a perfectly judged slow walking pace set by bass and drums, the orchestra plays a repeated six-note ‘response’ phrase which Evans subtly varies with changes of voicing and instrumentation. Above this, on muted trumpet, Miles floats a series of inspired, though essentially simple, variations on the melody. The opening statement of Gershwin’s theme uses fragments of the well-known melody in a hint of a declamatory style, as if Miles is giving the ‘call’ to which the orchestra ‘responds’. If that sounds at all complicated, the effect is actually very simple, and as direct in its appeal as any piece of music can be. But for me part of that appeal lies in the emotional ambiguity of the performance – the way in which it seems to hover between plaintive lament and optimistic joy.
My other favourites are the more obviously plaintive “Gone, Gone, Gone”, the up-tempo variation on it – “Gone” – which has a superb solo from Miles accompanied only by Paul Chambers’ driving bass and Philly Jo Jones’s excitable, intense drumming, “The Buzzard Song” with Miles’s rich-toned flugelhorn floating above some equally rich brass scoring, the beautifully arranged fragment “Here Come de Honey Man”, and a joyous, spontaneous sounding “There’s a Boat That’s Leaving Soon for New York”.
A classic album. But is it really not possible in the 21st century for remastering technology to eliminate that ghostly pre-echo which has so far haunted every version on LP, tape and CD?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Loves You, Porgy!, 3 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
Everybody has their own favourite Miles Davis album - whether it is the improvised modal explorations of "Kind Of Blue", the cut-and-paste new directions of "Bitches Brew", or the sharp bebop bursts of "Birth Of The Cool". My personal favourite is Miles and Gil Evans' wonderful arrangement of Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess". Miles' trumpet soars through "Summertime" and "It Ain't Necessarily So", showing that even within a written score he could always find room to move and make a song his own. Gil Evans' arrangements, almost too good to be called jazz in some ways, are reminiscent both of the old dancehall bands and of Duke Ellington's orchestras. The collective personnel includes Cannonball Adderley, Gunther Schuller, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, and this helps explain why, on the likes of "Prayer" and "Gone", the orchestra is so much more than just the background to Miles' trumpet. The score ends with the rousing and celebratory "There's A Boat That's Leaving Soon For New York", and you can almost hear them dancing in the studio. The album simply sounds fresh every time I play it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lilting and haunting, 24 Nov. 2004
By 
R Jess "Raymond Jess" (Limerick, Ireland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Davis and Evans rework Gershwin's operatic oddity to weave dark magic, 9 Jan. 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
In one of the short essays printed in the CD booklet-insert, Bill Kirchner writes: "In 20th century American music, three partnerships have been most influential: Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn, Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle, and Miles Davis/Gil Evans."

It's no exaggeration to state that Miles Davis was in many ways the 20th century's musical equivalent of Picasso: always the innovator, pushing the boundaries of hitherto unexplored landscapes to expand what we accept as art, disregarding convention and rewriting the rules. The musical marriage with Gil Evans' structured but often radical orchestral arrangements provided the near-perfect canvas for Miles' trumpet to paint its expressive, minimalist, striking colors with bold but often melancholy brush strokes. Chalk and cheese they may have been, but together cooked up something magical. In addition they were close lifelong friends.

From first to last, the result of their collaboration in reworking Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" has a serious core. The mood evoked is on the whole not joyous; it has a melancholy heart and minor keys predominate. Evans' brass-dominated orchestrations are the antithesis of smooth and restful: they are often jarring, discordant, disturbing, and work perfectly in setting the tone.

Highlights would be the downbeat opener "Buzzard Song" employing a sparse duet of tuba and trumpet; a mellow and rhythmic rendition of "Summertime" (a contrast with Trane's treatment of the same base material on his "Favorite Things" album is instructive); and the sublime "It ain't necessarily so" - each one a fine example of Evans' radical, attention-grabbing orchestration overlaid with Miles' intelligent exploration of the basic melody with a trumpet sound so clean and vital it's like a refreshing shower on the skin on a hot day.

This album may not be to everyone's taste, and does not suit every mood. However, its best moments rank as some of the greatest ever in jazz and reinforce the conviction, if any were needed, that 20th century music would not have been the same without Miles Davis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Davis and Evans rework Gershwin's operatic oddity to weave dark magic, 8 Jan. 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
In one of the short essays printed in the CD booklet-insert, Bill Kirchner writes: "In 20th century American music, three partnerships have been most influential: Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn, Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle, and Miles Davis/Gil Evans."

It's no exaggeration to state that Miles Davis was in many ways the 20th century's musical equivalent of Picasso: always the innovator, pushing the boundaries of hitherto unexplored landscapes to expand what we accept as art, disregarding convention and rewriting the rules. The musical marriage with Gil Evans' structured but often radical orchestral arrangements provided the near-perfect canvas for Miles' trumpet to paint its expressive, minimalist, striking colors with bold but often melancholy brush strokes. Chalk and cheese they may have been, but together cooked up something magical. In addition they were close lifelong friends.

From first to last, the result of their collaboration in reworking Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" has a serious core. The mood evoked is on the whole not joyous; it has a melancholy heart and minor keys predominate. Evans' brass-dominated orchestrations are the antithesis of smooth and restful: they are often jarring, discordant, disturbing, and work perfectly in setting the tone.

Highlights would be the downbeat opener "Buzzard Song" employing a sparse duet of tuba and trumpet; a mellow and rhythmic rendition of "Summertime" (a contrast with Trane's treatment of the same base material on his "Favorite Things" album is instructive); and the sublime "It ain't necessarily so" - each one a fine example of Evans' radical, attention-grabbing orchestration overlaid with Miles' intelligent exploration of the basic melody with a trumpet sound so clean and vital it's like a refreshing shower on the skin on a hot day.

This album may not be to everyone's taste, and does not suit every mood. However, its best moments rank as some of the greatest ever in jazz and reinforce the conviction, if any were needed, that 20th century music would not have been the same without Miles Davis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Davis and Evans rework Gershwin's operatic oddity to weave dark magic, 9 Jan. 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Porgy & Bess (Audio CD)
In one of the short essays printed in the CD booklet-insert, Bill Kirchner writes: "In 20th century American music, three partnerships have been most influential: Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn, Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle, and Miles Davis/Gil Evans."

It's no exaggeration to state that Miles Davis was in many ways the 20th century's musical equivalent of Picasso: always the innovator, pushing the boundaries of hitherto unexplored landscapes to expand what we accept as art, disregarding convention and rewriting the rules. The musical marriage with Gil Evans' structured but often radical orchestral arrangements provided the near-perfect canvas for Miles' trumpet to paint its expressive, minimalist, striking colors with bold but often melancholy brush strokes. Chalk and cheese they may have been, but together cooked up something magical. In addition they were close lifelong friends.

From first to last, the result of their collaboration in reworking Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" has a serious core. The mood evoked is on the whole not joyous; it has a melancholy heart and minor keys predominate. Evans' brass-dominated orchestrations are the antithesis of smooth and restful: they are often jarring, discordant, disturbing, and work perfectly in setting the tone.

Highlights would be the downbeat opener "Buzzard Song" employing a sparse duet of tuba and trumpet; a mellow and rhythmic rendition of "Summertime" (a contrast with Trane's treatment of the same base material on his "Favorite Things" album is instructive); and the sublime "It ain't necessarily so" - each one a fine example of Evans' radical, attention-grabbing orchestration overlaid with Miles' intelligent exploration of the basic melody with a trumpet sound so clean and vital it's like a refreshing shower on the skin on a hot day.

This re-mastered import has a nice clean sound, and includes two extra tracks: alternative versions of "I Loves You, Porgy" and "Gone". These two extras don't add much to the collection, and you can see why they were not chosen for the original LP. However you might consider buying this release over the others for the sake of completion: the CD is not expensive.

This album may not be to everyone's taste, and does not suit every mood. However, its best moments rank as some of the greatest ever in jazz and reinforce the conviction, if any were needed, that 20th century music would not have been the same without Miles Davis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate Porgy & Bess, 26 Aug. 2004
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
Despite the numerous versions of Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess" recorded by countless jazz legends, there is still only one recording that really matters and that is this fantastic CD by trumpeter Miles Davis' backed by an orchestra playing the sumptious arrangements of the great Gil Evans. It would be impossible for me to describe the many orchestral colours Evan's conjures up behind Davis's plaintive horn, suffice to say that Evans was to jazz what Ravel, one of his great influences, was to classical music. Of their three "official" records, "Porgy & Bess" is the finest, yet this collaboration raised the standard of jazz to levels that had previously been unknown outside of Duke Ellington's orchestra and all the offerings must merit highest accolades. (Especially the fantastic "Sketches of Spain.")
This disc features all the familiar songs as well as the lesser known numbers. Even hoary old songs such as "summertime" are re-cast in a totally original manner. The Miles Davis / Gil Evans version of "Porgy & Bess" is one record that I could not consider living without and I envy those music fans who have yet to discover this marvellous interpretation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music, 25 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
Absolutely superb record. I prefer my jazz to be based around familiar music that is then worked on in many different ways and this is an excellent example of the genre.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Class, 23 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
Although this guy has been around for so many years I am just getting into his music and am thoroughly enjoying this disc, possibly
because this is one of my favourite musicals.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, if a bit short., 10 July 2013
By 
D. Downes (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Porgy And Bess (Audio CD)
A classic from a long time ago. Could have included some other takes and versions from the session if they're available.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Porgy And Bess
Porgy And Bess by Miles Davis (Audio CD - 1997)
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews