Sketches of Spain
Between May of 1957 and March of 1960, Miles Davis collaborated with the composer and arranger Gil Evans to create a trilogy of masterpieces for large jazz ensemble. Sketches of Spain, the last of the three, is a dazzling work, not only for the glowing, magisterial orchestrations, but for the stunning solo work by Davis, among his most expressive and affecting. The centerpiece of the album is a November 1959 recording of the adagio from "Concierto de Aranjuez," a 20th century Spanish composition by Joaquin Rodrigo. The band plays with beauty and splendor, content to stick closely to the score. The remaining tracks were recorded in March of the following year. "Will O' the Wisp" comes from a Manuel de Falla ballet while "The Pan Piper" is based on a mystical Peruvian Indian folk melody. The final two tracks are adaptations of old Andalusian flamenco. "Saeta" is a religious march tune that quiets in the middle to allow Davis' mournful, wailing horn the spotlight. "Solea" builds slowly atop the lightly prancing percussion of Jimmy Cobb, Elvin Jones, and crew, a blend of Latin polyrhythms and modal jazz. Davis' inspired improvisations on these two tracks are on another plane, smoldering with emotion.