Review Summary: Nefertiti is brooding, calm, and works as a whole. Not the best Miles out there, but some of the better stuff he's done easily.
Miles Davis second quintet was, essentially, him bringing in a league of new, incredibly talented underlings of jazz and making them wonders. After their third album as a group, Soccerer
, Miles even thought it well to not even contribute to the songwriting process, rather, allowing up-and-comers like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams dig their hands deep into the process. However, while Soccerer
continued the legacy of the moving playing of Miles and his merry men, Nefertiti
is where his crew-mates truly shine, both in creating a mellow aesthetic, and sailing the banners of the old jazz standards.
’s biggest strength lies in the strength of the songwriters. Three of the band mates, all of them mentioned earlier, contribute to all of the songs, with Wayne Shorter bringing in the most of what’s happening (three of six tracks). In fact, Wayne writes what might be the most mesmerizing and two strongest songs on the record, the title track and “Fall”. The title track rives it’s absolutely monolithic structure, with Miles mesmerizing trumpet playing, Carter’s plucking, walking double bass, coupled with the sweetly accented piano undertones and violently dynamic drums, and we get one of the most epic, enthralling Miles Davis tracks of his years before he learned about rock music. “Fall”, another highlight on Nefertiti
, is almost on polar opposites with the title track. Where “Nefertiti” was dynamic, huge, and mind-boggling, “Fall” is cushion-y, slow, and incredibly easy to listen to. Probably one of the more mellow moments of Miles, a track like “Fall” hasn’t really been heard since Kind of Blue
, and while it doesn’t feature the inter-play between Coltrane, it goes for the comfortable feel without him.
With two stand-out songs at the beginning of Nefertiti
, it’s a bit disappoint to see that the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up. Instead these track mixes Miles’s mellow re-invention of bop with speedier tempos, and while it does work towards the soundscape of the album, they don’t really work as individual pieces. These tracks, rather than the stand-out brilliant qualities of the ones before, feel awful workman-like for tracks with the Miles brand on them. Nonetheless, these tracks still work due to the musicianship of Herbie Hancock, whose virtuosity of the piano absolutely shines above the otherwise unmemorable three minutes of “Riot”. What helps also here to balance out this lack of dimensional songwriting towards the end is Miles’s playing. Miles Davis, while still simple with his playing and still as emotional as ever, is doing his least sloppy work in forever, hitting all the notes cleanly without the halting dissonance that plagued (or aided") his post-Bitches Brew
Despite seeming faults coming the workman-ship of the second half of Nefertiti
, it still works due to the roomy jazz soundscapes of the three songwriters and Miles Davis sweeping trumpet. While a lot of Miles records are overrated because of the name and bore because of their incessantly long times, Nefertiti
clocks in at fourty-one minutes, making it easy to enjoy the record, but does not feel half-assed or cheap in doing so. Needless to say, you need this.