1) "In A Silent Way" (1969): Marrying jazz to large ensemble ambient music, and creating so much space in the music that Tony Williams’ cymbal playing emerges as one of the musical highlights – this was masterful stuff. I still listen to it at least once a week.
2) "Bitches Brew" (1970): “Directions in Music,” he called it, and the direction here was forward. This album transcends jazz, in a sense. It’s at once hugely influential and wholly unique.
3) "Nefertiti" (1968): The last album to feature acoustic instruments exclusively. A real showcase for the compositional brilliance of Wayne Shorter, and the incredibly high level of interplay between the Second Great Quintet’s musicians.
4) "On the Corner" (1972): African American funk meets Stockhausen, with elements of acid jazz and Indian classical music? Yes, please. I heard this for the first time when I was 5. It rearranged my molecular structure.
5) "Sketches of Spain" (1960): Words don’t do it justice. Just listen.
6) "Kind of Blue" (1959): Definitive modal jazz. Bill Evans is sublime. (As is Wynton Kelly, on one tune.) Coltrane and Cannonball – just, wow. Incredible. Timeless.
7) "Aghartha" (1975): This is African American funk, but still, the European influence comes through, and the way Miles directs the band’s starts and stops, the way he controls the dynamics – it’s unlike any other music I’ve ever heard. Guitarists Reggie Lucas and Pete Cosey bring the fire, too.
8) "Asenseur Pour L’echafaud" (1958): Haunting. Perhaps the finest distillation of Miles’ aching trumpet tone.
9) "Live-Evil" (1971): For the inspired performances of pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Michael Henderson, and guitarist John McLaughlin. The trumpet’s not too shabby, either.
10) "Filles de Kilimanjaro" (1968): The last word from the Second Great Quintet, and the first hint of what was to come with “Bitches Brew” and Miles’ best 70s work.
Email Jeff Miers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Story topics: Miles Davis