"Nefertiti" was Miles Davis' follow-up record to "Miles Smiles" which was itself perhaps the greatest or ar least one of the very best jazz album of the 1960's. Even though the line up of the trumpeter, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams consistuted the greatest band in the history of jazz, "Miles Smiles" seems the summit of the studio recordings of the second quintet and , on first listen, "Nefertiti" lacks the free-wheeling explosive nature of the previous record. For me, the title track sees the band depart for new territory with Shorter's theme being performed chorus after chorus in varying intervals and dynamics but with the creativity being left to the ever-brilliant Hancock's choice set of chords and the massed battery of Williams' drums. Whilst played brisker than other versions, this "straight" performance pointed the way for bands in the 1980's to perform heads but the real meat in the recording doesn't take place until everyone is unleashed to take full length solos. So although "Nefertiti" may have sounded fresh and original in 1967, this kind of arrangement sounds less novel these days. It always seems an odd choice for an opener to an album.
The disc very much takes off with the wonderfully whistful "Fall" which was also composed by Shorter with the following tracks "Hand jive", "Riot" and "Madness" effectively continuing where "Miles Smiles" left off with some blisteringly exciting free-ish playing all under-pinned by the furious drumming of Tony Williams which is the stand out feature throughout this record. Williams is simply immense on this CD. The "official" record concludes with another Shorter composition "Pinocchio" which is the most catchy theme on the whole record and has the most orthodox swing feel about it.
Having explored Davis' recording career from his days with Charlie Parker through to the electonic efforts where the leader's trumpet was cut and pasted into Marcus Miller's aural landscape, I would safely say that the second quintet features the hardest swinging and most uninhibited playing Davis ever put down on record. The looseness of the rhythm that was laid down by Williams and under-pinned by the ever -resourceful and creative bass playing of the wonderful Ron Carter could not but have helped being anything other than inspirational. As ever, Herbie Hancock demonstrates that he is by far the greatest pianist in jazz when it comes to laying down rich and colourful harmonies behind a soloist. He is also incapable of playing a phrase in his solos which doesn't swing with the hardest degree of intensity. Although there is plenty produced by all five musicians on these Quintet records to merit repeated listening, it is always Hancock who astounds with the shear originality and creativity of his ideas. I love his playing more than any other pianist's. I would also have to say that the idiosyncrities of Wayne Shorter's tenor provided the ideal foil for Davis.
Unfortunately, there is a small caveat with this issue. Despite the unreserved praise for the "official" takes, this disc also includes a number of takes that were rejected at the time. Although the arrangement of "Pinocchio" is almost transformed by taking the tune at a different pace, by and large it is easy to see why these takes were not chosen and regretfully they take the shine off what was initially a perfect album. These rejected alternatives are merely "good" and lack the greatness of the ones that were eventually chosen. (Oddly, "Miles Smiles" solely consists of first takes and the band must have been fired up when it recorded in the studio that day.) Sometimes it is best that these rejected takes remain in the vault as in this instance they show that not everything they produced in the studio was turned to gold.
Other than this reservation, the "official" takes are exceptional pieces of music making by one of the defining groups in the history of 20th century music and not just jazz. An essential purchase and of equal stature to "Sorcerer" if not repeating the magnificance of "Miles Smiles."
This was the first Miles I bought, in black vinyl when it was released in '68. Why I was drawn to buy it, I don't know. I knew little about jazz and nothing about Miles's music. As a new release, the album was on prominently display in the shop and somehow, mesemerised by the cover [which I still find deeply enigmatic], I felt I had to buy it. I have played it constantly, ever since. It has taken me years come to some modest understanding of this music, long after the extraordinary feeling conveyed by it had captivated me. The striking aspect of this album is the pivotal role played by drummer Tony Williams. It's remarkable that, at 17 years old, Williams's playing forms the canvas upon which Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter paint the forms and colours of this sublime music. Dave Holland's bass provides the rythmic underpinning, occasionally being visited by Williams, before he rejoins the others in the forefront of the picture. Nefertiti is no K of B. One doesn't relax straight into it on first hearing, as anyone surely does with that earlier album. It presents a complexity that K o B does not have, despite the K o B band having four solo voices, including the giant talent of Coltrane. The primary role that Williams plays on Neferetiti seems disturbing at first but [for me] the beautiful logic and feeling contained in this music has gradually revealed itself and has become endlessly rewarding and essential to my enjoyment of Miles Davis.
My favorite Miles studio album. Dark, sensuous, exciting, mysterious, fluid. Miles never sounded better. His sound is strong & rich and he refrains from using the mute. Shorter twists & turns, caressing & lingering, turning each phrase inside out. The rhythm section is simply the best in jazz - Williams' drumming is beyond compare. The compositions are beautiful & break new ground. The overall effect is of a volcano about to explode - you can sense the hot magma churning. The extra tracks add much. The recording is top notch & the album cover perfectly reflects the music. A perfect album.
The Second Great Quintet's 4th studio album comes from 1968 and sees experimentation right from the off with the title track appearing to anyone casually listening to feature unusually stilted trumpet and saxophone performances. That is, until you really listen to the track and hear what is going on underneath. Always one to innovate, it's the usual underpinning piano, drums and double bass that are improvising rather than playing their more usual role. The album's original six tracks all rip along at a pace, in a style retrospectively defined as post-bop. Wayne Shorter shines on "Fall" and "Hand Jive" in particular, but holding the album together is the incredible drumming of Tony Williams who is on fire throughout.
The original album is supplemented by four alternative versions, two of "Hand Jive", with the second especially a driving force majeure; "Madness" giving up some of the band's working method in studio when contrasted with the master take; and "Pinocchio" taken at a much faster pace. They are all worthy of inclusion, but then pretty much everything this Quartet touched turned to Gold. This is the last completely acoustic album from Miles before the electric experimentation started, and a masterclass throughout.
Nefertiti is the name of this stunning record, Miles's second from 1967, and is also the gorgeous, hypnotic title track, written by the great Wayne Shorter, who became indispensible as both composer and player on these impeccable albums from the golden mid-to-late sixties period of the Miles odyssey. Listen too to Tony Williams on that title tune. He manages to thrash away like a man who's been deprived of his percussive hit while creating an impressionistic backdrop for the other musicians. What a fine drummer he was. The second number Fall continues the near-ecstatic music-making, and the rest of this very fine jazz album never lets up. It's inspired and it's an inspiration. There are alternate takes each of Hand Jive, Madness and Pinocchio, and very welcome they are too. After all, with this quintet, you don't want the joy to ever end. The usual remastered excellence is on show, and the booklet is the typical pleasure to have and hold. For me this was Miles's most perfect era, with Wayne Shorter on hand to paint his inimitable pictures, Miles 'sitting it out' at times, but then emerging refreshed out of the melee with some exquisite phrase or riff that either stops or breaks your heart. All the players - Ron Carter solid on bass and Herbie Hancock consistently weaving magic on piano must be mentioned - excel themselves on all the precious half dozen recordings from this purple patch in all their careers.
As a drummer I have to hold this in high regard, there are a lot of drummers that love this recording, Tony Williams is still untouchable and with this recording in my car, house and my work van I know that I'm gonna be happy all week every week, it's beautiful and haunting and yet when the action hits it's exactly what I want from jazz. If your not into jazz but want to try it, put this on repeat and let it convert you as it did me.....The other reviewers already say enough I just want to say...Listen to Tony Williams!
A lot of improvising in and around the melody on this one - including a bass solo from Ron Carter (it's not Dave Holland as the first reviewer suggested) on 'Pinocchio'. Shorter wrote 'Nefertiti', 'Fall' and 'Pinocchio', Herbie Hancock wrote 'Madness' and 'Riot', and Tony Williams 'Hand Jive'. But in the greater scheme of things I'm not sure what that really means - maybe they came up the melody and handed it over to the band for the creative fires to flare. For sure, it's the interaction and apparent fluidity (even telepathy) of the five musicians that is so addictive. Nefertiti - like much of the work of the 1960s Miles quintet - is beloved by jazz musicians more than mass audiences, but don't let that worry you. This is hypnotic stuff, and there's always some twist to keep you coming back. The switch from Miles' trumpet to Wayne Shorter's sax on Hand Jive always gives me the shivers. And, yes, Tony Williams is extraordinary, a freefloating jazzer rather than someone beating out the time. Has to be four stars, though. There's the complete Quintet recordings box set !!