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Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project

On The Electric Miles Project, saxophonist Chris Kelsey and his What I Say quintet approach Miles Davis’ fusion work in terms of layers. It’s an unusual tack, but given the methods of construction Davis used, a valid and probably long overdue one. The resultant album provides real insight into the fusion pioneer’s inventions-and the musicians’ thrill at taking them for a spin.

They dig deep into some of the strata: “Agharta Prelude” unearths, via Kelsey’s soprano, the tune’s main melodic motif (present on Davis’ Agharta but buried in its murky textures). In other places they add new content: On “Directions,” Joe Gallant replaces the short, passive bass riff Miles employed with the slippery, kinetic one he threaded through side two of On the Corner, and guitarists Rolf Sturm and Jack DeSalvo inject a buzzing maelstrom into the mix. Not incidentally, Sturm and DeSalvo are separated throughout the album into the left and right stereo channels, respectively, allowing them to function as separate layers as well.

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