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Miles Davis - "Tribute to Jack Johnson"

Miles Davis – “Tribute to Jack Johnson”

 

People can talk about Bitches Brew all day long. But it was another Miles Davis album, the follow-up Tribute to Jack Johnson, which was the true harbinger of what fusion music was going to be all about. Davis said the album was the greatest rock record ever recorded. I am sure many rock purists would vehemently disagree with him. But you can not rock-out any farther than the cats that played on this record. On the album’s showpiece, “Right Off,” the rhythm section of drummer Billy Cobham and bassist Michael Henderson find a pocket deep enough to drop one of Davis’ fancy cars into. John McLaughlin’s electric guitar is full of hardcore blues vamps, dastardly riffs, a subversive funk and an unadulterated aggressiveness heretofore never heard from a jazz guitarist. Herbie Hancock’s punctuated organ adds emphasis. Bennie Maupin’s important clarinet is often overlooked because people remember the electricity. And then there is Miles. He takes his time before entering. Then with a burst from his horn, he is omnipresent. He is the master lording over an historic creation. And you know he knew it! Tribute to Jack Johnson was recorded as the soundtrack of what would become a very little seen documentary about the great heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. The record was not a commercial success. Many old Miles Davis fans were frightened by his new direction and his record label Columbia didn’t exactly promote this new music because it was afraid too. The sessions from which producer Teo Macero famously, or infamously, culled the music which became this album can be heard on the 5-CD compilation box set The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions. It is a fascinating listen and the music contained in that set sits on the shelf alongside the original album in our Fusion Hall of Fame.- Walter Kolosky

Miles Davis - "Tribute to Jack Johnson"

Miles Davis – “Tribute to Jack Johnson”

Released in 1971

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