Remembering Miles, Verve CD 314 557 199-2, 1998
Personal appreciation of one master by another
In a way, Shirley Horn is the perfect singer to record a
tribute to the music of Miles Davis, since shes the woman with
the Horn (in her name). I realize that this statement is a really bad
play on words. Nevertheless, Horn is still more than qualified for the
job. From jazzs incarnation, singers have always tried to imitate
the sounds made by instrumentalists, so an album such as this one
should come as no surprise to anyone.
"Remembering Miles" is a nine-song collection of great
songs and great singing in which Horn is supported by an all-star
musical cast. In addition to her own underrated piano playing, she is
joined by Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Charles Ables and Davis alumnus Ron
Carter on bass, and both Al Foster and Steve Williams on drums. Toots
Thielemans even contributes guitar on "Summertime."
Right off the bat, this recording opens with a surprisingly
wistful rendition of "My Funny Valentine." Instead of
wallowing in melodrama so often applied to these minor chords, Horn
leaves a lot of space between her phrases, and never lets you forget
that, after all, this is a love song.
One of the great beauties of jazz is that it rarely restricts
itself to pop musics self-imposed three-minute song limitations.
For example, "Baby, Wont You Please Come Home" lasts a
good long 7:21, and "My Mans Gone" clocks in at 10:39.
"Baby" begins with an unhurried piano intro from Horn before
her sultry vocals take over, while "My Mans Gone" milks
the interplay between Horns voice and Hargroves trumpet
counterpoint for all its worth.
As these song examples imply, Horns memories of Miles are
rooted in his pre-fusion jazz days, so dont expect her take on
"Bitches Brew" anytime soon. Instead, enjoy the sharp ear for
interpretation she shares with the late great master. Dan
Glenn Brooks says... Regarding the three-minute pop song limit.
Those who dont like jazz will complain that the players go on
and on, rather than getting to the point. But (recorded)
jazz once had a three-minute rule too, because that was the time
available on one side of a 78 r.p.m. record. So, Duke Ellingtons
1940 masterpiece "Cotton Tail" clocks in at 3:08, but covers
an entire universe in its breadth. Still, pop tunes do tend to be
shorter than jazz tunes. Attention span,