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Big Fun

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Album Review

Despite the presence of classic tracks like Joe Zawinul's "Great Expectations," Big Fun feels like the compendium of sources it is. These tracks are all outtakes from other sessions, most notably Bitches Brew, On the Corner, and others. The other element is that many of these tracks appeared in different versions elsewhere. These were second takes, or the unedited takes before producer Teo Macero and Miles were able to edit them, cut and paste their parts into other things, or whatever. That is not to say the album should be dismissed. Despite the numerous lineups and uneven flow of the tracks, there does remain some outstanding playing and composing here. Most notably is "Great Expectations" from 1969, which opens the album. Here the lineup is Miles, Steve Grossman, Bennie Maupin, John McLaughlin, Khalil Balakrishna, and Bihari Sharma on sitar and tambura, Herbie, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Harvey Brooks, Billy Cobham, and Airto. Creating a series of vamps from drones and a small melodic figure, there is very little in the way of groove or melodic development until the middle section, where a series of modalities enters the composition. The second album in the set features "Go Ahead John," an outtake from Jack Johnson's sessions that is 28 minutes in length. It's a riff-based groover, with McLaughlin and his wah-wah pedal setting the pace with Steve Grossman on soprano. The basic motif is the blues, floating around E and Bb flat, but there are modulations introduced by Miles into Db flat that add a kinkier dimension into the proceedings as well. Dave Holland is the bass player, and DeJohnette is the drummer. There is no piano. What's most interesting about this date is how it prefigures what would become "Right Off" from Jack Johnson. It doesn't have the same fire, nor does it manage to sustain itself for the duration, but there are some truly wonderful sections in the piece. This is for Miles fans only, especially those of his electric period, because it fills in the puzzle. The reissue added four bonus tracks to the original double-LP set, but other than "Recollections" by Zawinul, they shed little light on the mystique and development of the intensely creative music being developed in 1969 and 1970. Others should be directed to Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, Jack Johnson, or Live Evil as starting points.

Customer Reviews

GooD Music

Miles Davis is the Coolest man that ever walked this Earth. BIG FUN is cool late night sound that would get any woman in the mood. This album is just cool jazzy funk. Get this album. It's the BEST!

Buy this!

Entering this soundscape.... is as if entering a caravan through an electronic rainforest... dark and wet with sound... with stops and starts...and dangers.... its a trip you take with miles's horn... and intellect... which means you'll be consuming this soundscape on the best china...and sipping your champagne in cyrstal flutes... just don't mind that there maybe a snake lurking behind you... if you're cool.. it won't mess with you.... Back in the mid 80s.. I scoped this record... due in large part to the corky mcCoy cover art... come on now.. that sista is looking wicked bad... meaning good. and the green oversized horn is outta site.. big fun eh? metaphor.. irony.... you'll love this journey.. the sounds will wrap around your morrocan lamps and candle flames... and through your curtains... it will settle where it will.. enjoy.....

nice adventure. a surprise.

been a miles fan for as long as I can remember, but never came across this album until recently and I must say that it was a really nice surprise. full of magnificent adventure and wonderous playing. also, recorded very well. high quality sound. not sure if that is a remaster from the original though. Anyway, if you are looking to get into miles davis, wait on this one. If you are already into him and you're looking for a nice tickly treat, this is a good bet. The music definitely reflects the title.


Born: May 26, 1926 in Alton, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the...
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