Miles Davis – E.S.P.

More Miles Davis / More Herbie Hancock

More E.S.P.

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  • This pressing boasts insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, a huge step up from most copies
  • There’s plenty of 1965 Columbia 360 Label Tubey Magic in Stereo – the analog sound is real, tonally correct, and above all, natural
  • Miles fronts his second classic quintet here – saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams
  • “They created a unique sound that came to define the very sound of modern jazz … ESP remains one of their very best albums.” — 4 1/2 stars

This Columbia 360 Label pressing is one of the better copies of E.S.P. we’ve  heard.

It’s richer and fuller, with more ambience, and the trumpet and piano are just amazing sounding. You’re going to have a fairly tough time finding a copy that is anywhere near as impressive as this one. Trust me — we know whereof we speak. We’re always trying and all too often coming up short. Not here though! 

Two Exceptionally Good Sounding Sides

What both sides of this pressing have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1963
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of this stellar jazz combo having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.

Like many of you seem to be, we’re big Miles Davis fans around here. We’ve been trying our darnedest to find Hot copies of this album, but most of them are too dull and lifeless to get excited about. Many of them are too congested and veiled to make any sense of.

The AMG Rave Review (4 1/2 stars out of 5) linked above is especially insightful and well worth reading.

The Players

Bass – Ronald Carter
Drums – Tony Williams
Piano – Herb Hancock
Tenor Saxophone – Wayne Shorter

TRACK LISTING

Side One

E.S.P 
Eighty-One
Little One 
R.J.

Side Two

Agitation 
Iris 
Mood

AMG  1/2 Star Rave Review

ESP marks the beginning of a revitalization for Miles Davis, as his second classic quintet — saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams — gels, establishing what would become their signature adventurous hard bop.

Miles had been moving toward this direction in the two years preceding the release of ESP and he had recorded with everyone outside of Shorter prior to this record, but his addition galvanizes the group, pushing them toward music that was recognizably bop but as adventurous as jazz’s avant-garde.

Outwardly, this music doesn’t take as many risks as Coltrane or Ornette Coleman’s recordings of the mid-’60s, but by borrowing some of the same theories — a de-emphasis of composition in favor of sheer improvisation, elastic definitions of tonality — they created a unique sound that came to define the very sound of modern jazz. Certainly, many musicians have returned to this group for inspiration, but their recordings remain fresh, because they exist at this fine dividing line between standard bop and avant.

On ESP, they tilt a bit toward conventional hard bop (something that’s apparent toward the end of the record), largely because this is their first effort, but the fact is, this difference between this album and hard bop from the early ’60s is remarkable. This is exploratory music, whether it’s rushing by in a flurry of notes or elegantly reclining in Hancock’s calm yet complex chords.

The compositions are brilliantly structured as well, encouraging such free-form exploration with their elliptical yet memorable themes. This quintet may have cut more adventurous records, but ESP remains one of their very best albums.