Various Artists

An All-Star Tribute to Pablo Picasso & Miles Davis

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At first glance, Pablo Picasso and Miles Davis may be the quintessential odd couple. But, upon reflection, a joint tribute to both makes sense. They each went through quite distinctive periods during their respective lives as they matured artistically. Picasso had his Blue Period and Cubism among others. Miles Davis, too, went through similar stages during his life. There were the early days in bop playing with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, then the cool period, the quintets with John Coltrane and others, the impressionist albums with Gil Evans, and finally his ascent or descent, as you will, into exploring the popular musical formats of the day. Newcomer Richard Clay has successfully written a series of 11 compositions dedicated to the metamorphosis of these two artists. Much credit for this achievement is because of the musicians Clay has gathered to help with this project. Clay also serves as a prominent performer on this album as well as its creator. His saxophones and, especially, his flute are spotlighted on many of the cuts. Veteran trombonist Curtis Fuller makes his presence known, particularly with a powerful solo on "Blue Cool," which contrasts with Clay's "cool" flute. But it is the Davis-influenced trumpet ofEddie Henderson that makes the album attractive, as heard on "View of Bitches Brew," for example, which runs the gamut from avant-garde to lilting waltz, where Henderson's muted trumpet dances with Clay's flight of fancy flute. Henderson's trumpet echoes the sounds of the bullring in "Minotaur I," a musical interpretation of Picasso's Minotauromachy. The 10-minute plus track, "Blue Period," is a musical conception of what many call Picasso's most fertile period, his Blue Period. On this piece, the sassiness in Henderson's trumpet plays against some very good ensemble work as well as blending once more with Clay's flute. Buster Williams' bass holds things together on this long piece. Another "blue" piece, "Blue Miles," recalls the quintet days with Henderson doing those long lyrical lined, melodic solos Davis was so adept at. Geri Allen makes important contributions throughout, especially with a plaintive introduction to "Love of a Life" This tribute to two unlikely honorees has good original music played very well by outstanding musicians and is recommended.

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