A quick review of an album that is not really free jazz or avant-garde, but that is really worth mentioning to jazz lovers. Corey Wilkes plays Miles Davis at The Velvet Lounge in the company of Kevin Nabors on tenor sax,
Greg Spero on keyboard,
Junius Paul on bass, Xavier Breaker on drums, and Kahil El'Zabar on percussion.
Sure, Wilkes is not Miles, and usually tribute albums are a little disappointing as we all know how good the originals are, and their kind of ideal version sticks to our memories for comparison, but to Wilkes' credit, he turns this music into great fun, full of bluesy undertones, and some fusion elements, because this is of course mainly the electric Miles period. What the album lacks in power and musical vision, is compensated by five musicians and the audiences enjoying the playing, and then predominantly when Wilkes takes the lead, and even more so when El'Zabar's voice on percussion is heard. The latter is a real entertainer, and a great presence on stage, and the driving force on most of the tracks on the album.
Th album starts with "Yesterdays", a bland kind of warming up for the real thing to start with "It's About That Time", followed by "Tutu" and "So What/In It's Right Place", with great soloing by Wilkes over a strong rhythm section, and of course fantastic material to work with, but the great thing is the presence of the live audience. They applaud, they cheer, they laugh, they are part of the overall success of the album. Yes, the pieces are kind of crowd-pleasers, but who cares.
Great fun, and possibly one of the best live albums in quite a while.
Listen and download from eMusic.