What may be the last (but don’t count on it) in a string of legacy edition reissues from the Miles Davis catalog, Sketches Of Spain is just shy of turning 50 years old. That distinction it will receive next year, but that same fact didn’t prevent Kind Of Blue from getting the half-century moniker prematurely.
I suppose that’s why they left it off this edition of Sketches Of Spain, whose repackaging is largely treated in the same way. However, as Kind Of Blue‘s legacy edition was essentially Kind Of Blue and 1958 Miles slapped back-to-back with a few false starts and one “live” take of “So What?” (as if it all wasn’t live anyway). Sketches Of Spain instead includes “Song Of Our Country,” recorded at the same time but unreleased for 20 years, and a cut from one year later named “Teo” after Sketches‘s producer Teo Macero. Throw in several alternate takes and one alternate ending for the album’s centerpiece, “Concierto de Aranjuez,” and a reissue you have.
Actually, French Horn player Gunter Schuller’s included essay on the recording is fantastic, extremely fair and intelligent, and probably a better read than any review of Sketches Of Spain you’ll likely see (certainly including this one).
Davis and Gil Evans, collaborating on record for the last time (unless you count Quiet Nights, dubiously released against both of their wishes), took “Concierto de Aranjuez,” arranged for classical guitar and orchestra, and replaced the classical guitar with Miles’ trumpet. Easy enough, but this isn’t a classical effort. It was jazz, but not quite big band, not quite cool, certainly not free and far from bop. It resides somewhere in-between, with Miles searching out his own blues in the mournful melodies of another culture. The result is inspiring, and itself inspired the remaining Evans compositions on the album.
I could go on, but there’s little point unless you hear it, go there and search out that feeling yourself.
In A Word: Ephemeral