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Yo Miles! Sky Garden by Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith

If ever there were a group of musicians that spanned a universe of sound, it would be Yo Miles! featuring Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith. Sky Garden pays tribute to a period in Miles Davis's career (1969-1975) that was not only freeform in nature but inspiring as well. Allowing musicians to work in a loose and exploratory environment, ideas were allowed to be expressed like never before. This recording succeeds in spades. If you have a CD player that can play SACD's then you are in for a real treat. Not only will you hear great sound, but depth, dimension and realism approaching older analogue technology.

Jabali (part 1) begins as a slow funk with Manring's fat sounding bass setting the undercurrent for Smith, Coster and Kaiser to slowly intertwine ideas and contemplations. Smith's searing trumpet beautifully angles itself against the main melody. Flowing down a river of sound, taking liberties along the way.

An arrangement of note, Sivad - Gemini Double Image - Little Church is a medley of compositions from Davis, Zawinul and Pascoal. Kaiser's languid sounding guitar teases and probes while Smith has his way playing some fractured horn. Coster's interspersed keyboard adds another dimension. A gem to say the least.

Joe Zawinul's Directions is performed at a driving pace with drummer Steve Smith leading the way. Propulsive playing to the max. Tchicai's inspired segment is a perfect illustration of how far reaching an artist he can be. Osby's balanced playing contributes greatly to the spirit of the moment.

Willie Dixon is an original from Wadada Leo Smith . Steve Smith's delicate cymbal work along with the smooth sax sounds capture a moment of heightened awareness and beauty.

Cozy Pete is a group effort. One gets a feeling that if Miles were in the room, this would be their tribute to him. Everyone has a chance to solo. Kaiser's unique guitar offerings are most striking. He is possessed by the spirit of Miles and this shows by the way he bends his notes and accentuates nuances that seem to come out of nowhere. Every, phrase, every bar is a new experience to enjoy. The seamless integration of sounds is like witnessing a miracle. Everyone is so in touch with each other. The percussion work towards the end builds to great heights before settling down with some sliding guitar from Kaiser.

If there were ever a house band in the Star Wars galactica, it would be Yo Miles! Their music not only pays homage to one of the greatest musicians ever (Miles Davis), it also inspires, challenges, and invigorates. On many levels, Sky Garden is a recording of great spirit. Multiple listens are required to fully appreciate the trance like hypnotism that Miles post 1969, pre 1975 music was so famous for.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith
  • CD Title: Yo Miles! Sky Garden
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Cuneiform Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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