The Complete On the Corner Sessions: 1972-1975 Box set, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
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Miles Davis' The Complete On The Corner Sessions, the eighth and final deluxe box set in the Grammy Award-winning Miles Davis Series, includes more than 6 hours of music - twelve previously unissued tracks plus five tracks previously unissued in full - covering sixteen sessions from On the Cornerm, Big Fun, and Get Up With it. Joined by such jazz legends as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Hart, and countless others, this 6-CD deluxe edition also contains a 120-page full-color booklet with liner notes and essays by Grammy-winning producer Bob Belden, journalist Tom Terrell, and acclaimed arranger and composer Paul Buckmaster. With such a comprehensive collection of Miles Davis' songs, plus dozens of rare photographs and new illustrations, this very special deluxe box set is a must have for any fan of Davis' genius or jazz music in general.
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With these sessions, Miles left behind the standard approach of the solo as the sole source of melody. From the first notes of "On The Corner", the soloist became one of the many sources of melody, which now coming from all corners of the band. A large part of this was the work of a young Englishman named Paul Buckmaster, who Miles met in 1969. He was greatly impressed by Paul's sophisticated version of this approach, which came out of his fascination with composers such as Stockhausen, Lutoslawski, and other 20th century masters.
The set incudes complete takes of the "On The Corner" sessions with new mixes that allows the listener to really hear all the inner parts so this approach can be fully appreciated, as well the original edited mixes. One fabulous feature is notes by Paul Buckmaster giving the untold story of how this record came about, detailing the process that he and Miles used.
This set also includes tracks from "Get Up With It", an equally important and influencial record for the world beyond jazz. "Rated X" has been cited by some producers as the genesis for dark drum and bass. Brian Eno considers "He Loved Him Madly" as major inspiration for his ambient works that followed.
But best of all this set includes around 2 hours and 45 minutes on unreleased tracks, all of which this reviewer would classify as very worthwhile. They are too numerous to list, but included are great takes from the large group that threw sitar and tabla into mix, plenty from guitarist Pete Cosey, reedman David Liebman, and the unmatchable bass of Michael Henderson, whose rock solid grooves were central to all this music.
For jazz fans who believe there is life beyond 1967 and electronic fans looking for new ideas, this set is a piece of history that's worth the big price.
Firstly: The packaging is quite impressive. The set comes in a metal box with color reproductions of the original artwork raised into the metal and printed in color. The booklet inside is beautifully printed with a number of new illustrations by Corky McCoy. The liner notes are mostly reprinted from the most recent remaster of the stand alone On The Corner CD but without the track details. There is a nice essay from Paul Buckmaster though.
Disc 1) This is all previously unreleased material. I regard this material as essential listening. You get to hear the unedited master recording of the material that makes up the original LP. In addition there are some strong recordings that didn't make the original cut. Great stuff!
Disc 2) Ife is already available on Big Fun and Rated X on Get Up With It. The balance again is unreleased material. The two pieces entitled Turnaround and U-Turnaround are the basis for the frenetic number which opened Miles' live concerts with the "funk collective" but are clearly in development here. Interesting but not particularly riveting for this listener.
Disc 3) Other than Billy Preston (Get Up With It), this is a CD of previously unreleased material. I won't comment on this having heard this side only once.
Disc 4) Calypso Frelimo and He Loved Him Madly - both from Get Up With It. No new material here.
Disc 5) Maiysha and Mtume - both from Get Up With It. The balance of this disk is previously unreleased. What They Do is absolutely burning! This track stands with the best of any of the live material from the "funk collective" in my view. Scorched earth intensity live in the studio - I regard this as essential.
Disc 6) On The Corner presented as Miles and Teo originally envisioned it with the addition of two 45 RPM sides.
Is this worth owning? For me; absolutely, however I am a fairly hardcore fanatic when it comes to Miles' electric music. Quite a bit of this is available on On The Corner and Get Up With It - both available in recent (and very good) remasters. Nevertheless, the wealth of previously unreleased recordings here make this essential for me. The sound is superb since all of this is mastered 24/96.
The only reason I left off a star is because of all the previously released material in this set. Most hard core fans ( and let's face it, that's who is buying the box sets ) already have On The Corner and Get Up With It
Kudos to Sony for the fantastic job they have done with the Miles Davis box sets. The metal spine packaging for this release is beautiful, with an enormous booklet that features complete track listings, session details, and boatloads of liner notes and photos. I have a few of these sets, and the quality of the presentation is fantastic. Expensive? Yes, but eminently worth it for the Miles completist like myself. And as with all of these sets, the price drops significantly after the first few months and it's available on this site for a fraction of list price.
This set is highly recommended for fans of Miles' electric period. Newcomers had better steer clear of this set until they have listened to the official releases from this time period. Miles Davis' music from this era is extremely polarizing...people either love it or hate it. I guess that's what happens when you push music itself to the limit.
Most people reading this know what "On the Corner" sounds like - deep, "black", in-your-face aggressive, and above all HIGHLY RHYTHMIC (and strikingly unmelodic). Some reading this are probably also familiar with the material from "Get Up With It" which is dense and great in its own unique take-it-or-leave-it way.
Is there a substantial amount of new material? Heck yes as it turns out. Arranged chronologically as it is it really does amount to a dramatic expansion of what we have of Studio Miles, 1972-74. I want to point out that while at a glance Disc 1 looks from the titling like a rehash of material that is assembled in the final mix - as was some of the "Complete Jack Johnson" box - it is actually quite different and almost an alternate album's worth of stuff to my ears. I listened to that disc last but it actually put the biggest smile on my face.
Like the "Slient Way" and "Bitches Brew" boxes, this augments what we had of the period and lays down a more definitive and fulfilling picture of Miles' work at the time. Now, it's not the most friendly and inviting music out there, and at times it sounds static. That's what Miles was playing with and shaping, and some of this is the unused clay. To a fan of the music, this is a joy. Best packaging of the series too, I love the way the figures jut out of the metal.
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