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Forty years ago today: Miles Davis Filles de Kilimanjaro
Unfairly overlooked by a lot of casual observers when glancing at the career of Miles Davis, Filles de Kilimanjaro is actually a pivotal album in his development. It's unusual in that the two separate sessions which the alum grew out of feature two distinct and separate group of musicians. The first recording featured Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, and can be seen as the last recording of the 2nd Miles Davis Quintet. The second recording retained Shorter and Williams, but Chick Corea replaced Hancock on keys and Dave Holland took Carter's place on the bass. This was the first time that either of these had recorded with Davis.
Despite these changes in personnel, Filles appears as a very cogent, together record. There are only five tracks, but all of them are very strong. It blurs the lines between acoustic and electric Miles as Hancock (apparently acoustic period) lays his Fender Rhodes all over the lovely 'Tout De Suite' and Dave Holland who was very much part of Miles's future, utilises acoustic upright bass.
It may not have the critical reputation of his albums from the same period, such as 'In A Silent Way' or the inevitable 'Bitches Brew', but this is an album well worth checking out for even a casual Miles Davis fan.
The album also hints at what might have been on its closing track 'Mademoiselle Mabry', which is apparently Gil Evans and Miles reimagining Hendrix's 'The Wind Cries Mary'. Both Davis and Hendrix were set to work together in the year after this record, but sadly that never happened. That track is also a tribute to Miles's wife at the time Betty Davis, who also graces the cover artwork.

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