Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith
Yo Miles! Sky Garden
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2004, Volume 11, #7
Written by John Metzger
Immediately upon hearing Yo Miles! Sky Garden, it becomes abundantly clear that both guitarist Henry Kaiser and trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith, the collection’s creators, hold a particularly comprehensive understanding of Miles Davis’ music as well as his creative process. Given the duo’s own extraordinary talents, it’s not surprising that the set works as well as it does. In fact, they do such a masterful job at exploring the extemporaneous regions of the material that instead of merely covering the songs, they manage to encapsulate the brilliance that brewed them in the first place. From this, they also are able to orchestrate several new pieces that serve as a virtual aggrandizement of Davis’ remarkably variegated legacy.
Indeed, the basic premise behind Yo Miles! Sky Garden (as well as its predecessor Yo Miles!) was to utilize Davis’ compositions as a touchstone, thereby retaining the general ambience of the inaugural recordings, but otherwise, Kaiser and Smith jettisoned virtually everything else in order to rebuild the tracks from scratch. What’s particularly astounding — and what allows the endeavor to succeed — is that the chemistry of their assembled entourage mirrors that of Davis’ own alchemical ensembles. As a result, the collective is able to submerse itself within the primordial ooze that seeps through every nook and cranny of the chord progressions and bend each tune to its will as a means of formulating a pair of musical suites that not only waltz between the breathtakingly beautiful and the absolutely ominous, but also are equally bold, unparalleled, and full of organic luster. Simply put: Yo Miles! Sky Garden frequently feels as if the manifestation of Davis himself had a hand in crafting its contents.
Yo Miles! Sky Garden is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box