Synopses & Reviews
The influence of Miles Davis's "second great quintet," consisting of Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums) continues to resonate. Jazz musicians, historians, and critics have celebrated the group for its improvisational communication, openness, and its transitional status between hard bop and the emerging free jazz of the 1960s, creating a synthesis described by one quintet member as "controlled freedom." The book provides a critical analytical study of the Davis quintet studio recordings released between 1965-68, including E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro. In contrast to the quintet's live recordings, which included performances of older jazz standards, the studio recordings offered an astonishing breadth of original compositions. Many of these compositions have since become jazz standards, and all of them played a central role in the development of contemporary jazz composition.
Using transcription and analysis, author Keith Waters illuminates the compositional, improvisational, and collective achievements of the group. With additional sources, such as rehearsal takes, alternate takes, session reels, and copyright deposits of lead sheets, he shows how the group in the studio shaped and altered features of the compositions. Despite the earlier hard bop orientation of the players, the Davis quintet compositions offered different responses to questions of form, melody, and harmonic structure, and they often invited other improvisational paths, ones that relied on an uncanny degree of collective rapport. And given the spontaneity of the recorded performances-often undertaken with a minimum of rehearsal-the players responded with any number of techniques to address formal, harmonic, or metrical discrepancies that arose while the tape was rolling.
The book provides an invaluable resource for those interested in Davis and his sidemen, as well as in jazz of the 1960s. It serves as a reference for jazz musicians and educators, with detailed transcriptions and commentary on compositions and improvisations heard on the studio recordings.
"A welcome addition to the growing number of scholarly publications about jazz. While Waters approaches the topic multilaterally and comprehensively, the scope of his study is remarkable, the analytical tools innovative and penetrating, and the conclusions reflecting points of view of a fine scholar with insightful analytical prowess and a thorough understanding of extremely challenging musical repertory...[A] monumental study." --Association for Recorded Sound Collections
"Session by session, composition by composition, what was once a profound mystery destined for eternal analytical purgatory has been freed...within this text are the keys to immediate and future musicological discoveries and exciting individual artistic developmental possibilities." --Bob Belden, composer and producer
"A major book. For serious listeners, it's a gold mine of information and analysis concerning one of the most important musical ensembles of the 20th century." --Bill Kirchner, musician, producer, historian, educator, and editor of The Oxford Companion to Jazz
"Waters' writing is impeccably clear and avoids needless jargon...This title is part of Oxford University Press' new series of book-length discussions of classic jazz albums (another is Brian Harker's Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings). In this era of audio downloads, such serious studies that dig into the significance of the records that have shaped our world are always welcome." --Downbeat, Editor's Pick
"An excellent resource...Highly recommended." --Choice
"A detailed exploration of those recordings, with interviews, musical analysis and critical
response for both the scholar and fan." --New York City Jazz Record
"Advances the field of jazz analysis through its thporoughness and analytical insight, applying creative approaches to explain music that has often seemed structurally opaque and mysterious and that has often been discussed only in superlatives. The study has few counterparts for comparison and stands in a rather lonely position in the world of contemporary jazz analysis." --Journal of Jazz Studies
"Every music library should have a copy of Keith Waters' new book. It goes beyond a
purely descriptive analysis of the workings of the great Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-
1960s, providing technical analysis that includes in-depth notated musical transcriptions
of solos and accompaniments...This is the first book-length account devoted entirely to
unearthing the nitty gritty in this remarkable band's music. Bravo for Waters!" --Mark C. Gridley, Notes
"Systematic and thorough, Waters not only reveals the richness and complexity of the inner workings of the 1960s Davis quintet, he also placing them in relationship to the music of their time and explores their legacy to generations of jazz musicians to come after them." --ARSC Journal
"A wonderful, always enlightening, and frequently brilliant book...A landmark in the history
of jazz scholarship." --American Music
"A new seminal work in Davis scholarship." --American Music Review
The "Second Quintet" -- the Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960s -- was one of the most innovative and influential groups in the history of the genre. Each of the musicians who performed with Davis--saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams--went on to a successful career as a top player. The studio recordings released by this group made profound contributions to improvisational strategies, jazz composition, and mediation between mainstream and avant-garde jazz, yet most critical attention has focused instead on live performances or the socio-cultural context of the work. Keith Waters' The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68
concentrates instead on the music itself, as written, performed, and recorded.
Treating six different studio recordings in depth--ESP, Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro--Waters has tracked down a host of references to and explications of Davis' work. His analysis takes into account contemporary reviews of the recordings, interviews with the five musicians, and relevant larger-scale cultural studies of the era, as well as two previously unexplored sources: the studio outtakes and Wayne Shorter's Library of Congress composition deposits. Only recently made available, the outtakes throw the master takes into relief, revealing how the musicians and producer organized and edited the material to craft a unified artistic statement for each of these albums. The author's research into the Shorter archives proves to be of even broader significance and interest, as Waters is able now to demonstrate the composer's original conception of a given piece. Waters also points out errors in the notated versions of the canonical songs as they often appear in the main sources available to musicians and scholars. An indispensible resource, The Miles Davis Quintet Studio Recordings: 1965-1968 is suited for the jazz scholar as well as for jazz musicians and aficionados of all levels.
About the Author
is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and author of Jazz: The First Hundred Years
, co-authored with Henry Martin (Schirmer, 2001; Second edition 2006); Essential Jazz: The First Hundred Years
, co-authored with Henry Martin (Schirmer, 2005; Second edition 2008); and, Rhythmic and Contrapuntal Structures in the Music of Arthur Honegger
Table of Contents
Introduction and Acknowledgements
1 The Quintet
2 Analytical Strategies
4 Miles Smiles
7 Miles in the Sky and Filles de Kilimanjaro
8 The Quintet and Its Legacies