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Published: 2009/06/15
by Brad Farberman

Sketches of Spain (Legacy Edition) – Miles Davis

Columbia/Legacy
Recording for the Miles Davis classic Sketches of Spain began in 1959 – though four of the five pieces on the album were recorded in 1960 – so, according to the folks at Columbia/Legacy, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the album. And you know what that means: time to reissue that ish, and make some cash.
But whatever the inspiration, its good for us. Now we can grab a remastered, two-disc look at Sketches, one of Davis legendary and influential collaborations with the arranger Gil Evans (their other joint ventures include the albums Birth of the Cool, Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess). Backed by a twenty-piece orchestra with a jazz rhythm section at its core (bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb and Elvin Jones on percussion), Davis and Evans run through lush arrangements of flamenco music by Joaquin Rodrigo, Manuel de Falla, and Evans, with Davis moody trumpet on top. There are jazzy segments here and there, but the touchstones on Sketches are really just flamenco music and orchestral music. No bop allowed.
There are goodies on disc two, however. The Latin jazz small group number Teo, named after Sketches producer Teo Macero, features Davis, Cobb, Chambers, pianist Wynton Kelly (can you guess where Mr. Marsalis got his first name?), and tenor sax giant John Coltrane (setting fire to the track). Also check out a live take on the 16 minute Sketches epic Concierto de Aranjuez, recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1961, but keep in mind that all of the material on disc two has already been made available.

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