While In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew proved that Miles Davis could make jazz — or depending on you feel about it “jazz” — music that to appealed to a younger audience who were listening to rock and soul and funk, it wasn’t quite enough for his musical restlessness.
Because in the early 1970s, shit got weird, culminating in albums like Jack Johnson and On the Corner, which didn’t so much fuse elements of jazz, rock, funk, and Indian music but rather take them and throw them into a large industrial fan.
And what came out was almost incomprehensible, and utterly fascinating. I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it yet.
For example, “One and One” from the On The Corner sessions is an utter cacophony of loud guitar, atmospheric sitar, swirling keyboards, wild sax and about a zillion rhythm instruments: not just two drummers, but congas and tabla, for good measure. And of course, Miles joins in, his trumpet tunneling through the whole thing like a rocket through the ocean, causing ripples which turn into tidal waves.
It shouldn’t work, but what holds it together is a bassline from Michael Henderson that is so confidently funky it almost steals the show. At the very least, it’s an anchor, a way for the rest of the musicians to not get so caught up in their individual trips they forget to find each other.
On the original On The Corner album, “One and One” was limited to only six minutes, but on the massively myth-making The Complete On The Corner Sessions features the original 18-minute take, which I would argue is still barely enough to showcase the massive funky weirdness going on.
I don’t listen to any of this stuff too often, but when I’m in the mood, it’s utterly transporting.
“One and One”
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