Miles Davis dropped out of music in 1975 and adopted a reclusive lifestyle infested with alcohol, cocaine, and sex. He acknowledged in his autobiography that sex and drugs took the place that music had occupied in his life. He quit playing the trumpet and his health generally deteriorated.
But the music beckoned. After a few false starts and with help from Cicely Tyson, whom he married in 1981, he eventually cut through the haze and got back in the studio. From June 1980 to May 1981 he recorded “The Man with the Horn,” released later in 1981 on Columbia as his first studio recording in seven years.
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“The Man with the Horn” sold well, but was not critically lauded. Nevertheless, Miles was back. He played straight trumpet with no mute and almost no electronic effects. He was joined by two musicians who would spend significant time with him over most of the last ten years of his life; Marcus Miller on bass and Bill Evans on sax. Also on the album were Al Foster on drums, Sammy Figueroa on percussion, Bruce Finnerty on guitar, and, on one tune, Mike Stern on guitar.
The music continued the fusion path Davis had begun blazing in the late ‘60s into the ‘70s, but this time with more syncopation, throwing some funk into the Davis stew. The title track is a vocal, something rarely heard on a Miles Davis record.
Join Geoff Anderson this week on the Vinyl Vault for Miles Davis and “The Man with the Horn,” on Tuesday, November 8 at 8:30 pm on KUVO JAZZ.
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