Song of the Day: Jamming with Miles on “Right Off”

Personal note: I just started my level 2 improvisational theater class, and I’m very excited about building my skills for it. In the spirit of improvisation, I thought I’d make the song of the day a tribute to great musical improv. This is “‘Right Off”, a 26 minute masterpiece from Miles Davis’ A Tribute to Jack Johnson.

So the story goes, this song got its start when John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham (who would later join forces in the Mahavishnu Orchestra), and Michael Henderson started a pretty simple blues jam waiting for Miles to show up. Producer Teo Macero, when he realized what he was hearing, had the good sense to let the tapes roll. Miles eventually jumped in with one of the great and most fiery trumpet solos of his distinguished career, and the track kicks into high gear from there. Later in the session, Miles found Herbie Hancock in the studio and, being the type of guy who can demand such things, insisted that he start playing.

The result is perhaps the most natural and bluesiest album of Miles Davis’ fusion period. If you like jazz crossed with blues anchored by a killer electric guitar, this is your record.

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