Miles Davis wasn't one for nostalgia. The chameleonic trumpeter believed in forging ahead, which is why he proved to be highly influential in at least four different areas of jazz: bebop, cool jazz (which was essentially bop played with subtlety and understatement), post-bop, and fusion. Davis even flirted with smooth jazz on parts of 1984-1985's You're Under Arrest (although his introspective versions of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" had a lot more substance than the average Kenny G or Richard Elliot snoozefest), and he was moving in a hip-hop-minded direction on his final recording, Doo-Bop. So if one is going to pay tribute to Davis, there is certainly a lot to choose from. Tributes to bop Davis or modal Davis have been plentiful; drummer Gerry Gibbs, however, salutes Davis' fusion output on The Music of Miles Davis: 1967-1975 -- and he does so with excellent results. A few of the tunes that Gibbs and his Electric Thrasher Orchestra embrace come from the tail end of Davis' post-bop period, including "Nefertiti," "Masqualero," and "Pinocchio." But they definitely belong on this two-CD set, because in 1967 Davis was getting ready to take the fusion plunge with 1969's In a Silent Way. And for the rigid, dogmatic jazz purists and myopic bop snobs who insist that Davis sold his soul to Beelzebub when he started combining jazz with rock and funk, there is no comfort to be found on this 2008 recording. The Music of Miles Davis: 1967-1975 is happily, enthusiastically, unapologetically fusion, and Gibbs' admiration for Davis' electric period comes through loud and clear on gems like "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" from Bitches Brew and "Right Off" from A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Not that Gibbs offers carbon copies of the original versions -- this release is about interpretation, not emulation. Davis didn't cease to be an improviser when he started using electric instruments; being influenced by rock, soul, and funk didn't cause him to lose his jazz mentality. And a jazz mentality is always present throughout Gibbs' exciting Davis tribute.
The Music of Miles Davis 1967-1975 Review
by Alex Henderson