Filles de Kilimanjaro
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12
Written by John Metzger
After the release of Nefertiti, Miles Davis began to push his quintet towards a new and different sound. Having grown increasingly infatuated with the music of Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix, he began to incorporate a more rock-oriented style into his own bandís compositions (even going so far as to paint an homage to the latterís The Wind Cries Mary on this setís Mademoiselle Mabry). Davisí 1968 release Miles in the Sky ushered in the new era, and when Filles de Kilimanjaro hit the streets later that year, Davisí fans knew that, like it or not, change was in the air and that the jazz world was about to undergo a radical transformation. Perhaps this was the reason Davis chose French titles for the album as well as its five tracks; after all, the language was about as foreign to most American jazz enthusiasts as the music that lay within the collectionís expansive suite of songs.
Yet, the full effect of Davisí new direction would not be felt for a little while longer ó partly because Davis was still defining what it was he wanted to accomplish and partly because the personnel were not yet in place. Thatís what made Filles de Kilimanjaro ó much like the later released Water Babies ó so notable. It wasnít nearly as tentative as Miles in the Sky, yet it marked the dissolution of his second quintet as Chick Corea and Dave Holland came on board to replace the departing Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter. As such, the ensemble was clearly in a state of flux while shifting from a more traditional jazz style towards the creation of the yet-to-be-named fusion movement.
Despite the turmoil, Filles de Kilimanjaro struck a near-perfect balance between these two disparate positions. But where Water Babies formed its link by drawing from recording sessions held nearly eighteen months apart, Filles de Kilimanjaroís tracks simultaneously built this bridge while blowing it to smithereens. Indeed, a great deal of Davisí and saxophonist Wayne Shorterís solo turns gravitated towards their pre-Nefertiti days, even as drums, bass, and keyboards percolated wildly around them. As a result, the duo proved to be beacons of light within the often chaotic maelstrom, illuminating the path towards more familiar surroundings. Davis, of course, would go on to record finer jazz-fusion albums, but sometimes, as in the case of Filles de Kilimanjaro, the process is as much fun to observe as the final outcome. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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