From Mosaic Records Jazz Gazette: Miles and Teddy Wilson

From Mosaic Records Jazz Gazette , a truly important resource

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Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we explore 1974’s black funk dreamscape from Miles Davis.

One autumn in New York, in 1972, the most famous jazz musician in the world tried to take a right turn at 60 mph off the West Side Highway and totaled his Lamborghini Miura. A bystander found Miles Davis with both legs broken, covered in blood and cocaine. Even after the crash, Miles had a bleeding ulcer, a bad hip, nodes in his larynx, and a heart attack while on tour in Brazil. He spat blood onstage, his legs in so much pain he had to work his wah-wah and volume pedals with his hands, and offstage, he self-medicated with Scotch and milk, Bloody Marys, Percodan, and more cocaine. “Everything started to blur after that car accident,” Miles later wrote.

His trajectory up to that point was a blur of a different hue. From teen sideman to Charlie Parker’s bebop revolution to a solo career that’s better compared to Pablo Picasso than other jazz musicians, Miles instigated entire paradigm shifts in music. Or, as he hissed to a matron at a White House dinner in the 1980s: “I’ve changed music five or six times.” Most narratives point to iconic albums like Birth of the Cool, Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Miles Smiles and Bitches Brew, but his 1974 album Get Up With It hangs like an ominous storm cloud over them all, the one that fans of his other works might hesitate to name, his last studio album before he fell mute for the rest of the decade. Like Orpheus grieving in the underworld or Marlow going up the river, Miles went to a place that forever altered his DNA. When he finally returned to the studio, he never sounded the same.

Starting with Bitches Brew in 1970, Miles proceeded to drop eight double albums as well as audacious efforts like A Tribute to Jack Johnson and On the Corner, each one deploying a strategy that undercut his audiences’ expectations. With Get Up With It, Miles began the most defiant shift of his storied career, dropping a totemic yet untidy leviathan that rebuffed jazz fans and critics alike. Each song careens between extremes, as Miles presages everything still to come: ambient, no wave, world beat, jungle, new jack swing, post-rock, even hinting at the future sound of R&B and chart-topping pop. For many modern fans, it’s his heaviest era, but Miles himself offers little insight into his mindset of that period, the music barely mentioned in his 1989 book Miles: The Autobiography. Instead, he writes: “I was spiritually tired of all the bullshit…I felt artistically drained, tired… And the more I stayed away, the deeper I sank into another dark world.”

Mosaic Records – Teddy Wilson transfers

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YouTube


The legendary Columbia producer Michael Brooks listens in to a previously unissued performance for Columbia Records of Teddy Wilson’s small group (along with J.C. Heard on drums) from July 31, 1942. The tune has a number of titles but an early shellac test pressing has it listed as “Stomp” Pt. 2 (this had been mistakenly thought to be “Something To Shout About” with a vocal by Helen Ward). Matt Cavaluzzo is the engineer and Scott Wenzel the producer of this new set for Mosaic: Classic Brunswick & Columbia Teddy Wilson Sessions 1934-1942.

Mosaic’s Teddy Wilson Sessions: A Look Behind the Scenes (Part 2)

Another quick glimpse into the transfer process at Battery Studios during our work on the Teddy Wilson set. Michael Brooks, producer for Columbia producer, joins Matt Cavaluzzo and myself as we hear for the first time a previously unissued performance on our newly released Wilson set.
-Scott Wenzel

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