SATURDAY JAZZ BRUNCH: Milestones by Miles Davis - I talked about the album Milestones a few weeks ago as the introduction of Miles’foray into the modal side of jazz. For the unfamiliar, the late 40’s and 50’s were dominated by bebop and hard bop which involved improvisation over complex chord changes in a set arrangement. Modal jazz however did away with set chord progressions and instead involved using modes (think of scales), which provided greater harmonic freedom but also seemed more sparse because the rhythm was not so “busy”.
I declared Milestones as the launching pad for Miles’ journey from hard bop to modal, but the tune Sid’s Ahead was pretty standard bop. It was the title tune really explored his experimentation into modal. Versus the other tracks, Milestones featured very few chords, it just kind of meandered along for nearly six minutes as each musician soloed over modes. Satisfied with the results, Miles would soon plot and entire album of modal jazz using the same group. But it all started here, on a mesmerizing track of stellar soloing and musical expression.