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Miles Davis’ Lost 1985 Album Rubberband Bounces Back

The previously unheard Davis recording resurfaces with contemporary touches added by the original session musicians

Miles Davis in 1986. (photo: Suzanne Rault Balet)
Miles Davis in 1986. (photo: Suzanne Rault Balet)

The career of Miles Davis was a series of directional shifts, each of which made an indelible mark on the history of jazz. The mercurial trumpeter was always looking ahead to do something new, something different. Whether it was also something better has been debated by critics, fans, and musicians for years. Each new move was finely parsed for clues as to what Miles was thinking and where he was going. The story, possibly apocryphal, goes that when a fan told him that he loved the trumpeter’s past work but was having trouble with his current stuff, Miles told him, “Why should I wait for you?”

All of these changes in musical direction were quite public and manifested in his bands, his recordings, his performances, even his look and persona. When he collaborated with someone new, whether it be Gil Evans or Wayne Shorter or Marcus Miller, we not only heard about it, we heard it. This made what we didn’t hear—like possible collaborations with Jimi Hendrix and Prince that never saw the light of day—all the more intriguing. So when Rubberband, an unfinished and unreleased Davis recording from 1985, surfaced recently … well, jazz people suddenly had something new to talk about regarding Miles, albeit something 34 years old.

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