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This review is from: A Tribute To Jack Johnson (Audio CD)
The first paragraph in the booklet notes to this welcome reissue of the original album are by Miles himself, in a characteristically staccato `street` piece about the boxer of the title. Miles starts so:
Can you get to that? And of course being born Black in America...we all know how that goes. The day before Johnson defended the title against Jim Flynn (1912) he received a note "Lie down tomorrow or we string you up - Ku Klux Klan." Dig that!
But Johnson wasn`t to be cowed, as Miles goes on to tell us...
He tells us a lot more in the 52 minues of often exhilarating music on this 1971 release, with Herbie Hancock, John Mclaughlin, Steve Grossman, Billy Cobham and Michael Henderson along for the two long bouts.
The first track - or Side One as was - is called Right Off, and begins the fight in pugnacious style, Miles soon jabbing and ducking like the old pro he by then was.
The music hurtles along. Best Played Loud, if you ask me.
"Side Two" is a slower, slightly less cohesive piece of similar length called Yesternow, which seldom really takes flight. I can`t help wishing for a few longer passages of sustained playing from Miles, which begins to happen towards the end, when matters hot up and sweat can be seen on the contender`s brow. And then - after an echoing, ruminative coda during which we briefly hear Jack himself, his words spoken proudly by actor Brock Peters - it`s all over.
Not the greatest match these men have been involved with, but one you wouldn`t want to have missed, and one which I`m very happy to replay every now and then.
In the right mood, it packs quite a punch.