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Customer Review

on 5 May 2004
The album "Filles de Kilimanjaro" has been heralded by critics as marking the point at which rock began to influence the trumpeter's work. Forty years later, the influence of rock is barely discernable as contemporary musicians have very much absorbed these ideas to such an extent that they have become part of the jazz mainstream. Indeed, Dave Douglas' recent "The Infinite" is very much a homage to this earlier album as it too features the electric piano in an otherwise acoustic setting. (The exceptance being the judicial use of electric base.)
Curiously, this album therefore sounds more contemporary than much of Miles' subsequent output and, for this reviewer, marks a creative highpoint.It is a fitting, adventurous swan song for his classic Quintet of the 1960's.
Throughout Miles' tailors his style to fit the new grooves that the band were now playing. Primarily noted as a cool player, it is doubtful as to whether his groups played any hotter than on "Felon Brun" and "Petits Machins", the two of the most exciting tracks in the Davis discography. His playing is also particularly delicate on "Mademoiselle Mabry." Shorter continues his harmonic explorations and throughout the tracks Tony Williams, the star of the show, whips up a maestrom behind his kit. Elsewhere, the excitement is generated by the electric piano playing of either Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea who prompt the soloists with jabs of exotic colour or scurrying runs up and down the keyboard. Even on the slower tracks, you can feel the energy bubbling away. Bass duties are shared between Ron Carter and a young Dave Holland.
Miles Davis sub-titled this album "Directions in music" and he clearly sensed that he was onto something new when he recorded it. There is plenty of opportunity for extended solo's, although many of the moody passages have clearly been expertly arranged. The harmonies played by the band are as startling as those conjured up ten years earlier on the Davis albums with Gil Evans, who I believe also had a hand with this effort.
"Filles de Kilimanjaro" is an album that deserves to be better known and if your knowledge of the great man is limited to "Kind of Blue", you will do your ears a treat by investigating in this neglected gem.
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