Miles Davis

Miles in the Movies

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This two-CD compilation has a whiff of being a strange excuse to collect much of Miles Davis' cool-period work in one place, but it undeniably contains a lot of good music. The concept is to feature recordings by Davis that have been used in film soundtracks. The catch is that, with the exception of his soundtrack for Louis Malle's late-'50s French film Lift to the Scaffold (known as Elevator to the Gallows in the U.S.), this isn't music that Davis composed and/or performed specifically for movies. Instead, it's a collection of tracks -- all recorded between 1949 and 1959 -- that happened to have been used on soundtracks, most of these for films of the '90s and the first decade of the 21st century (though three tracks were used in the 1974 movie Lenny). Disc one ingeniously -- some might say sneakily -- manages to include the whole of Davis' most famous album, Kind of Blue, by placing all five of that album's tracks (though not in their original sequence) after the entirety of the Lift to the Scaffold soundtrack. Owing to the oddity of the anthology's theme, this really couldn't be considered the best place to get Kind of Blue, or even the best compilation of Davis' early work. But it does have a lot of quality material from his cool era, although Davis' own compositions are lightly represented on the second disc, which has just two of his tunes. And disc one does lead off with the whole Lift to the Scaffold soundtrack (in its original sequence), for which Davis did write some effectively moody cool-cum-film-noir pieces, interspersed occasionally with more frenetic passages. On the whole, it's a worthwhile double CD -- containing about two-hours-and-15-minutes of music -- for the more casual jazz/Davis fan who isn't too fussy about getting this material in the best possible packaging, though this release does include basic liner notes by British critic Roy Carr.

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