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“Miles Davis: The Complete On The Corner Sessions” is
another volume in the thorough perusal of his live and
studio recording activities, during his 20-year stint with
Columbia Records. This set chronicles the years from
1972 through 1974 (technically, 1975), during which
he released the albums, “On the Corner,” “Big Fun,”
and “Get Up With It.” As with the other sets in the
series, this 2007 six-CD set contains every shaving
from producer Teo Macero’s work bench, making it
perfect for Miles Davis “completists, ” but perhaps
too much for the casual listener.

This set features numerous musical riches, including
120 pages of liner notes, essays and photos by
noted artists, such as Paul Buckmaster and
Michael Cuscuna. I was actually puzzled by the name
of this set, because these “sessions” obviously
encompass more than those for “On the Corner,”
which was released in late 1972. It’s appropriate to
also include “Big Fun” and “Get Up With It,” as all
three of these records are of a piece, from a stylistic
standpoint. They reflect Miles Davis’ interest in many
of the “urban” sounds proliferating the music scene
of that time, and also reflect his fascination with the
music of Sly Stone, among others. There is a heavy
emphasis on “groove” and “funk.”

As with all of Miles Davis’ (1926-1991) recordings, his
stable included the highest quality musicians, such
as Herbie Hancock, Jack De Johnette, John McLaughlin,
Dave Liebman, and Chick Corea, to name a few.
The roster varied from session to session, occasionally
containing up to three guitars, an electric sitar and
tablas, congas and other percussion instruments.
The only consistent contributors on all of these
sessions were Miles on trumpet and organ, and
Michael Henderson on electric bass.

In addition to the released tracks from the
aforementioned three albums, virtually every outtake,
unedited master and a lot of other music that was
not issued on the albums was included, most of
which has never been released before. Even some
short “single” versions of tunes are here! This set
has obvious benefits for those of us who are
interested in how these songs grew and developed.
I should also emphasize that both the released
and nonissued tracks also illustrate what can be
accomplished in a recording studio, with a visionary
producer at the helm. Teo Macero was such a producer,
often creating the impression of a group of musicians
playing “live” in the studio, when in fact, most of
the tracks were the products of multi-tracking techniques.

Like all of Davis’ music regardless of the era, I found
this set to be quite interesting. Of course, it doesn’t
hurt that I have an unusually adventuresome and
“open” mind, where listening is concerned. It goes
without saying that these qualities are a prerequisite
for this type of music. With all of the different rhythmic,
melodic and harmonic elements competing for your
attention, it requires considerable listener
concentration. My only criticism might be that some
of the tracks are a bit drawn out; but that’s to be
expected from a project of this magnitude.

Not surprisingly, the recorded sound is excellent,
and hearing this set on headphones can be quite
an experience! I believe that the project deserves
the highest marks, as with all of the others in
this series.