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As we know, purist, critics and music enthusiast alike deemed trumpeter Miles Davis as renaissance man. Even so, as progressive thinker he decided to flip the script as he dove head first into a new chapter in his life with “Filles De Kilimanjaro” which was an unexpected journey into the caverns of jazz fusion on Columbia. Arguably, “Filles De Kilimanjaro” was a massive imprint of what was yet to come. As a visionary, Miles surpass the ordinary with this recording at the time when the culture shaken by the “Civil Rights Movement” and four assignations of the most provocative leaders in American history. —Rob Young | The Urban Flux

Miles Davis - Filles De Kilimanjaro

Miles Davis -][- Filles De Kilimanjaro – [Columbia Records, 1968] (Dlx) [Original recording remastered, Extra tracks]

Filles de Kilimanjaro has an odd pedigree for an “album” — it was recorded in two different sessions, featuring two different lineups. As a result, in their box-set-everything-Miles-recorded campaign, Sony/Legacy split this album across two boxed sets. That’s really unfortunate, because these recordings really work well together, and as an ALBUM this is one of the highest peaks in Miles Davis’s career.

The three middle tracks (“Tout de Suite”, “Petit Machins”, “Filles de Kilimanjaro”) were the last recordings of the 2nd Quintet with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock. These five musicians played great on nearly all their recordings, but here they are really incredible. And the MVP has to be Tony Williams, who supplies the music with lots of extra juice. “Tout” combines mellow, Gil Evans arranged outer sections with an explosive rock middle section; Miles and Wayne play off the fireworks of Tony’s drumming. “Petit Machins” is the most conventional melody here, but the improvisation afterward is open-ended. The title track has a gorgeous, dreamy melody a la “Footprints” or “Masqualero”.

“Frelon Brun” and “Mademoiselle Mabry” were recorded three months later with Chick Corea and Dave Holland replacing Herbie and Ron. “Frelon Brun” is surely one of the best boogaloos ever recorded: intense solos by Wayne and Miles, Chick’s spiky comping behind them, and Tony Williams going completely crazy underneath. “Mademoiselle Mabry”, on the other hand, initially seems like a bunch of languid, bluesy phrases (including a nod to Jimi Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary”) played by Chick and Dave under Miles’s statement of the melody. But eventually you realize that these phrases form the frame of the song, repeated over and over while Miles, Wayne and Chick paint beautiful, unhurried solo statements over it. Tony doesn’t “drum” here, instead commenting irregularly but respectfully when the music merits it. And then the tune ends just like it started, with Miles playing the melody.

This is a major masterwork, a collection of five magical experiences captured in the studio. It’s an album that maintains jazz’s approach to improvisation, but fuses it with electric piano and rock and soul grooves in a way that’s rarely been done since. Miles moved in the rock and soul direction more decisively with In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew (both wonderful albums) but unfortunately never explored the peaks of Kilimanjaro again. –GB | Amazon.com