Jazz Album of the Week: Charles Pillow Delivers A Big Band Homage to Miles Davis

Aug 13, 2018

August 13, 2018. The title Electric Miles suggests you’ll hear instruments plugged into outlets. But when saxophonist, flutist and arranger Charles Pillow wrote the charts for his Electric Miles album, he only allowed for some electric piano and electric bass.  The rest of the magic comes from the force of his large ensemble. Batteries not included.

Pillow realized that the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ release of his seminal Kind of Blue on August 17, 1959 was approaching, and he wanted to commemorate it in a big way.  

Pillow chose pieces composed by Davis, along with music by Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, with whom Miles often collaborated during the inception period of jazz-fusion (1969-1972).  

This album plays like a film score. The band is super tight.  The players are fantastic. And the arrangements make the components shine.  

"Spanish Key” sounds enormous with so many horns behind it. In “Bitches Brew,” Julian Garvue's electric piano really stands out and enhances the enchantment of the tune.

In addition to leading and arranging this project, Charles Pillow also plays and conducts.  NEA Jazz Master David Liebman is the special guest saxophonist, who only adds more spark.  

Electric Miles is an homage to innovation that accomplishes its goal to such a high degree—it’s almost totally off the grid.