Panthalassa

Panthalassa

The Music of Miles Davis: 1969-1974

CRG/Columbia

I guess we have to look at this as one of those Bill Laswell things. Panthalassa is a “mix translation” and “reconstruction” by the producer extraordinaire, of Miles Davis’ recordings. There’s a long and impressive list of all the original players who contributed to this recording at one time or another, but that doesn’t matter cause everyone plays amazingly on this album.

If I’d been a good reviewer, I would have checked out all of Miles Davis’ recordings that are used on this project, but I didn’t have time. What I did do was take a good listen to this album and let it excite me about some shit that Miles Davis essentially laid out for us. For some reason I never really got entirely into Miles; I found other Jazz Masters to fit my liking better. However this album really breaches the gap that kept me from getting down with Miles. If you wanted to hear what Miles Davis would have done in the retro world of today if he’d still been alive then this disc is probably it. You all know that Miles progressed from cool jazz to some be bop and straight ahead super enthusiasm to fusion funked-out Seventies insanity to flashy glitter cheesy cover band Eighties to odd soul-urban vibes… What would have been next?

Bill Laswell’s eclectic backbone can carry a project like this and rework some cuts with his own multi flavored talent and style. I totally grooved the ambient work always hiding here and there, and the crystal-sounding bandwork with rich bass that was really beautiful and crisp to hear so brightly. The ferocious funky tunes, the near-ballad trippy solos, the relaxed vibe, the intense one, the tepid tabla action, the solid solid sound! I don’t know any other artist/producer who could meld all of these elements and sounds into one and make it so real.

If you heard the elements of Coltrane’s “Naima” on Material’s (with Laswell) Hallucination Engine and dug it, then you’ll love this album. But anyone who enjoys any of the styles mentioned above, or Miles Davis, or loves to check out a killer of a production, will totally dig this project.

The liner notes are full of quotes and poems and prose about Miles and with the energy contained in the music on the disc, Panthalassa is the finest “tribute” to another artist I’ve ever encountered On my top five list for best jazz album of the year… and all around maybe. Incredible.

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