Picks and Pans Review: The Man with the Horn
This first album by Davis since Water Babies in 1977 contains five engaging excursions and one cringer, vocalist Randy Hall and Robert Irving III's fawning title cut. Most of Hall's lyrics are blessedly unintelligible, but those that poke through the stately-tempoed schmaltz are sappy—"...a man so rare/Like fine wine/He gets mellower with age"—or plain wishful: "His music sets the pace." Face it, Randy, Miles hardly played, let alone set the pace, for a decade. The funk and fusion backgrounds here are nothing new for music, or Miles either, despite such hype as that of the breathless emcee who informed the expectant, sold-out house at the Kool (née Newport) Jazz Festival in New York last month that they were about to hear the music of the '80s. The malarkey obscures real significance. Miles has found his voice again after long bouts with illness, and it's as distinctive and persuasive as ever. This album's 51 minutes of adept musicianship also include Marcus Miller's snap-crackle-and-pop bass and Bill Evans' (no relation to the late pianist) whirling soprano sax. Best of all, though, is Miles, at 55 still teasing, tender, ruminative, piercing, audacious.