Sketches of Spain – 50th Anniversary

HE CAN READ MY MIND AND I CAN READ HIS – Miles Davis sobre Gil Evans

Sketches of Spain was the third collaboration (after Miles Ahead, 1957, and Porgy and Bess, 1958) between Miles Davis and Gil Evans for Columbia Records, and reunited the charismatic trumpeter with Gil Evans (1912-1988) following the 1959 recording of Kind of Blue. It is in these late ’50s recordings that Miles Davis (1926-1991) emerged as one of the supreme lyric-expressive players in jazz, representing as well a high point in his career and the culmination—at least temporarily—of a decade-long artistic/stylistic journey.

The centerpiece of the five tracks that comprised the original 1960 LP release of Sketches of Spain is “Concierto de Aranjuez,” originally written for guitar and orchestra by Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939. A masterpiece of its kind, it seemed tailor-made for Gil’s and Miles’s purposes, and provided their inspiration for the album’s all-Spanish/Andalusian flamenco theme. What attracted both men to this rather melancholy music, filled with a sense of longing and loneliness, was its intrinsic kinship with the blues. Both idioms flow from the same emotional bloodlines, as expressions of resistance to oppression and inhumanity. In this context, Miles was able to further discover his own distinctive voice and sound, and Evans was the one arranger/composer who could provide him with the appropriate complimentary orchestral settings that would accommodate Miles’s unique talents. The rest is history.

This historic edition presents the original album augmented by alternate and extra tracks, illustrating how this synergy developed. “The Maids of Cádiz” (from the 1957 album Miles Ahead) is the first example of Gil Evans adapting a composition of Spanish origin for an orchestral collaboration with Miles. The live performance of “Concierto de Aranjuez,” the only such ever given, took place in Carnegie Hall in 1961, offering a rare, heightened performance of this centerpiece. “Teo,” (from the 1961 album Someday My Prince Will Come) a small group piece dedicated to Producer Teo Macero, is simpatico with “Solea”—the other jewel from the original album, with its orchestral palette that is, in a word, sublime.

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