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Review: Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess

Review: Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess

Sam Hunter
Miles Davis Porgy and Bess Review

Mood: that strange optimism you get a few days after being lost in mind space after a heavy weekend.

Setting: early morning bus to work.

After being jolted awake (along with half of the other dazed passengers from the high pitched bleed out of my headphones) with an explosive opening to the Buzzard Song and indeed the album, it’s actually extremely pleasant. In fact, it turns out the shock makes startles you so much that you become hyperaware of your surroundings. Mix this with the now, curious rhythm of the bass and Tuba and it transports you away from the fact that you’re crammed up against the window of the bus. 

It starts to slow down as you enter Bess, You Is My Woman Now, but no less dramatic. It has all the benefits of a film score, but it’s independent. There are no patterns to be found here, each song tells its own story. It wasn’t created to compliment any scenes on the big screens, it paints an equally as visual picture alone. 

The album is inspired by the music of the opera Porgy and Bess from the 1930s and there are countless renditions of the original music, but I find this excels in a standalone piece by far.

Gone, Gone, Gone. Like out, out, you’re not nipping to the shop for milk and coming back, you’re gone for good – and then some. It’s got a western feel to it. Moody. Inquisitive, revelationary. A realisation that something a mistake has perhaps been made. Something he definitely didn’t realise when he just Gone in the song that proceeded; it definitely stamps out the optimism of that.

Jazz is a weird one for me. I can play it alone, but if I ever try to play it out loud in front of people, it makes me feel a bit awkward. I find it a bit too intense or restaurant-esque, either way, I end up sitting in silence with my eyes darting across the room. But this is different…

This is too good to be played at your local Frankie and Benny’s. The only place you’ll hear this number is in someone’s trendy apartment from their record player. Or my Alexa when I’m pretending to be in a trendy apartment with my record player. 

I’m not what happened, but by track 6, Bess is no longer his woman now.

We then reach my favourite of the album, Prayer. This one came up on my Release Radar. Nestled in amongst the shit remixes of songs I’ve listened to once and it’s now on my Repeat Plays.

I’ll fight anyone that says there’s a better feeling than pressing play for the first time on a record that will stay with you for life. And Miles Davis has done exactly that for me today.

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It almost feels insulting to listen to it on a bus that smells like piss masked with a bulk buy unbranded air freshener. But hey. 

I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the way it makes you feel in love. 

I’m not in a polluted city centre anymore, or I am, but it’s painted it with a charm. Cars, buildings and streets look cleaner, people seem to be smiling. The near-crash we just had was just a part of the new adventure I’ve embarked upon.

Then it’s my stop and I take my headphones off… I’ll leave the rest of the story for you. It deserves it. 

Listen below. (Careful on the volume of your headphones before you hit play of the first track though…)

Pros

A pleasant surprise for Jazz album. It didn't go off on too much of tangent, but still told a story

Cons

There are a few songs in the middle that make you drift into daydreams a little too much

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