Having proclaimed 1959 "Jazz's Greatest Year," Sony Legacy will release three multi-disc, expanded-edition sets marking 50th anniversaries next Tuesday, May 26: Dave Brubeck's Time Out, Charles Mingus' Ah Um/Mingus Dynasty and Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. The label stole some of its own thunder by last year releasing the landmark album of '59, Miles' Kind of Blue in several lavish editions.
This troika of diverse albums certainly belongs in any discussion of jazz classics. Personally, I find Sketches of Spain the least satisfying of Miles' four orchestral collaborations with arranger/conductor Gil Evans. Its neo-classical centerpiece, the 16-and-half-minute "Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)," kind of crawls along through atmospheric movement after atmospheric movement.
Overall, the album includes tons of gorgeous horn textures, but never finds much rhythmic traction, and Miles' trumpet work sounds a bit unfocused outside of a swing setting. An extra disc of outtake does not provide much in the way of revelations.
Brubeck's Time Out famously explores different rhythm signatures, and includes Brubeck's signature tune "Take Five." This disc is not on my list of favorites either, but I admire its chamber-like subtlety, Joe Morello's simpatico drumming and Paul Desmond arid-toned alto sax.