I’m not usually a fan of remixes by other artists especially where untouchables are concerned, and I would usually consider Miles Davis an untouchable. However, Davis was always pushing the envelope with his releases, trying on different musical clothing to stay as progressive as he could, viable for generations. He certainly achieved that as any look at newly released Miles Davis packages can attest to. As a matter of fact, this 5-track, 15-minute EP project precedes The Complete On the Corner (1972) Sessions, which is spread out on 6CDs and upgrades the original album.
Evolution of the Groove begins with a collector’s snippet of studio discussion between Davis and his producer on the classic Kind of Blue (1959) sessions. As the short minute-long clip progresses, Miles Davis plays with the trumpet of “Freddie Freeloader.” When this ends, it segues into a hip-hop version of “Freedom Jazz Dance (Evolution of the Groove)” with Nas adding vocals to Miles Davis’ already excellent track. It sounds a little seamed although I can appreciate the feel of Nas’ significant vocals as it adds a stream of current trend into an old classic.
“It’s About That Time” from In a Silent Way (1969) is remixed with guitar work by Carlos Santana, which is not too much a stretch with guitar work from McLaughlin already in place, and Pat Thrall, as well as other that includes Charley Drayton. Santana’s guitar work sits on top during a stretch and works well enough. This remix is well done and is easily listened to.
The remaining two tunes, “Honky Tonk” (Get Up With It – 1974) is augmented by smoking guitar work from Doyle Bramhall, with bass by Habib Faye, and “Black Satin” (On the Corner – 1972) adds multi-instrument support from the usual suspects, Charley Drayton (drums, guitar, bass, and electric tenor) with Pat Thrall on guitar, this time on their own.
All songs are mostly respectful of the Davis legacy and his musical structures but there is not a moment where the music feels totally seamless. Evolution of the Groove is an interesting aside experiment with one of the great trumpeters of our history and his music.