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Miles Smiles

Made by Miles Davis

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One of six studio albums cut by the group between 1965 and 1968, Miles Smiles finds them executing three Wayne Shorter compositions and one by the leader, along with Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance," former Davis cohort Jimmy Cobb's "Gingerbread Boy," and the usual mix of finesse and barreling momentum. Even when nodding toward the then-burgeoning hard-bop movement on the Harris piece, the group makes its own mark in a hundred different ways, from Herbie Hancock's spare touch to the thoroughly declarative solo Davis lays down. It's hard to pick the most exceptional cut on such a top-flight disc, but certainly Shorter's deceptively simple "Orbits" and "Footprints" deserve mention; on the former, the players take turns stating the melody and then rumbling over it. The latter's echoes of "Caravan" make way for an improv performance that not only hangs tough in itself, but seems to have provided a template for the entire early career of Wynton Marsalis.

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Number of Discs: 1