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In his autobiography Miles is dismissive of Charles Lloyd’s playing skills - he gives credit for the quartet’s success to DeJohnette and Jarrett. They were a fantastic rhythm section, to be sure, but you have to credit Lloyd for writing the songs that went on to be well received at The Fillmore and other rock venues. (I’ve always really liked Sombrero Sam on Lloyd’s Dreamweaver album.)

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I read the autobiography a long, long time ago and recall little of it. Lloyd was way ahead of his time and the whole band was too. Credit as well to Bill Graham for having the vision to program very eclectic bills at the Fillmore, etc.

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In that case, I have to relay Miles’s final statement about Lloyd from his autobiography: “Charles didn’t stay around for too long but made a lot of money during the time he was hot. I hear he’s rich and selling real estate today, so more power to him.” Talk about throwing some shade ... (and of course, Lloyd has been quite prolific the last several years).

I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of Country Boy. As much as I like the guitar on Paraphernalia, Country Boy is the most fascinating track on the album.

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To me, 'Country Son' is the greatest of all the Second Great Quintet tracks.

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That’s a bold statement, but defensible. (And of course I meant Country Son in my comment ... we are in a different universe from John Denver right now ...)

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Great essay! As a teenager, I was buying Miles albums as they were released, along with all of the contemporary rock renaissance albums, and it was a life-defining thrill to hear all of these musics come together on my turntable. I always heard the Miles albums from ESP to Filles De Kilimanjaro as links in a chain, but nothing prepared us for Bitches Brew when it finally hit. As another early “fusion” avatar I add Joe Zawinul’s Rise And Fall Of The Third Stream to your very comprehensive list. And Miles loved to bait and aggravate Leonard Feather, so while his comments in that notorious Blindfold Test are acute and revelatory of what was to come, there’s an additional edge to them that was meant to aggravate poor Leonard.

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I will have to listen to the Zawinul album. Davis is no doubt being intentionally provocative with Feather - his comments about Dolphy in his 1964 blindfold test are infamous.

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May 8Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Just stumbled upon this essay. It's a great read.

I was already thinking of linking both the early 60s Second Great Quintet that started with Seven Steps and the subsequent Electric Period but I can't seem to justify the connection despite reading your essay. Like is there a foreshadow in his Second Great Quintet outside of Miles in the Sky and maybe a few tracks you mentioned from ESP?

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Thanks so much.

Another foreshadowing would be when the Second Quintet began to play their sets moving seamless from one tune to another.

The straight rock rhythm given to 'Freedom Jazz Dance' from 'Miles Smiles' is another tip of the hat and the general atmospheric sound of tracks like 'Footprints,' 'Masquerlo,' and 'Fall' also seem to point the way. I see it as an evolution that happens gradually. The early experiments with mixing jazz with rock are so fascinating to me. I write an essay about it some day.

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May 9Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

You managed to convinced me, good sir. Will try to put them in my playlist some day aside from already having the entire playlist of the electric period (bar the 80s. Have yet to think of putting it. That's another can of worms lol.)

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Yeah - 80s Miles is something I've never really warmed to.

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Feb 6Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Glad I found you here! Wonderful, accessible writing. Country Boy is so engaging - a musical conversation where each voice is clear.

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Thank you for the kind words.

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Well done Robert. I finally got to read this piece on Miles and I think you've captured his restlessness perfectly. The funky grooves are deeply felt on these tracks, while the horn lines are counter intuitive, in a way, short phrases often repeated like a typical rock song. I would suggest that Miles, at this time, was the gateway to the fusion movement of the Seventies.

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Thank you, John. Appreciate these very kind words. I would agree - I think once Miles began to investigate funk and rock, that's when the movement took off and his band became the launchpad for many of fusion's greatest popularizers.

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Nov 11, 2023Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

He certainly did 🙌🏾

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Going to have to give this a spin right now, cheers!

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Enjoy and thanks!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Man, I love this record so much. Terrific stuff 👍

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Thanks!

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As usual very well written. Kudos! I believe that in his autobiography, Miles mentioned that he was listening to Kassav' late in life.

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Thanks, as always.

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Nov 8, 2023Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Well done! A condensed and critically informed look at the creative tributaries that led to Miles In The Sky - and beyond.

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Thank you - appreciate the kind words.

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