Yo Miles! 

Upriver

Rather than go the tired "tribute" album route, Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith -- Bay Area guitar wizard extraordinaire and renowned American avant-jazz trumpeter, respectively -- make an ongoing concern of their devotion for Miles Davis' "controversial" electric music, circa 1969-1975, with their Yo Miles! band. It was and/or is "controversial" because Davis, long a jazz icon, had forgone the theme-solos-theme verities of mainstream jazz and embraced elements of funk, rock, free improvisation, and electronics.

Kaiser and Smith have assembled an eclectic crew -- including the local sax quartet ROVA, ex-Santana keyboardist Tom Coster, and drummer Steve Smith from Journey (!?) -- that wisely doesn't attempt to replicate or "update" Davis' crucial '70s albums Live-Evil and Agharta, but rather uses themes within as points of departure while "nourishing" their eerily spacious ambiance and deep, elastic grooves. Where the original "Bitches Brew" was wraithlike, Yo Miles! makes it roar with feverishly passionate, blues-charged guitar solos and animated drumming, while Smith invests the original's echoing horn riff with a chilling, more vocal resonance. Elsewhere, you'll find hard funk, psychedelic guitar, and maybe even drum 'n' bass.

Recorded live, the two-disc, two-plus-hour Upriver honors Davis' accomplishments in the best possible manner: by building upon what he left us.

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