Sketches of Spain
|Sketches of Spain|
|Studio album by|
|Released||July 18, 1960|
|Recorded||November 15 & 20, 1959 and March 10, 1960|
|Studio||Columbia 30th Street Studio|
New York City
|Producer||Teo Macero, Irving Townsend|
|Miles Davis chronology|
Sketches of Spain is an album by Miles Davis, recorded between November 1959 and March 1960 at the Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City. An extended version of the second movement of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) is included, as well as a piece called "Will o' the Wisp", from Manuel de Falla's ballet El amor brujo (1914–1915). Sketches of Spain is regarded as an exemplary recording of Third Stream, a musical fusion of jazz, European classical, and styles from world music.
Davis' wife Frances Davis insisted he accompany her to a performance by flamenco dancer Roberto Iglesias. Inspired by the performance, Davis bought every flamenco album he could get at Colony Records shop in New York City.
The album pairs Davis with arranger and composer Gil Evans, with whom he had collaborated on several other projects, on a program of compositions largely derived from the Spanish folk tradition. Evans explained:
[We] hadn't intended to make a Spanish album. We were just going to do the Concierto de Aranjuez. A friend of Miles gave him the only album in existence with that piece. He brought it back to New York and I copied the music off the record because there was no score. By the time we did that, we began to listen to other folk music, music played in clubs in Spain... So we learned a lot from that and it ended up being a Spanish album. The Rodrigo, the melody is so beautiful. It's such a strong song. I was so thrilled with that.
Concierto de Aranjuez
The opening piece, taking up almost half the record, is an arrangement by Evans and Davis of the adagio movement of Concierto de Aranjuez, a concerto for guitar by the contemporary Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Following the faithful introduction of the concerto's guitar melody on flugelhorn, Evans' arrangement turns into a "quasi-symphonic, quasi-jazz world of sound", according to his biographer. The middle of the piece contains a "chorus" by Evans unrelated to the concerto but "echoed" in the other pieces on the album. The original melody then reappears in a darker mode.
Davis plays flugelhorn and later trumpet, attempting to connect the various settings musically. Davis commented at rehearsal, "The thing I have to do now is make things connect, make them mean something in what I play around it". Davis thought the concerto's adagio melody was "so strong" that "the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets", and Evans concurred.
According to Davis' biographer Chambers, the contemporary critical response to the arrangement was not surprising, especially given the scarcity of anything resembling a jazz rhythm in most of the piece. Martin Williams wrote that "the recording is something of a curiosity and a failure, as I think a comparison with any good performance of the movement by a classical guitarist would confirm". The composer Rodrigo was also not impressed, but royalties from the arrangement brought him "a lot of money", according to Evans.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Penguin Guide to Jazz|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In a contemporary review for Down Beat, Bill Mathieu hailed Sketches of Spain as one of the 20th century's most important musical works so far and a highly intellectual yet passionate record. He found Evans's compositions extremely well crafted and Davis's playing intelligently devised, concluding in his review, "if there is to be a new jazz, a shape of things to come, then this is the beginning." Replying to suggestions that Sketches of Spain was something other than jazz, Davis said "it's music, and I like it". In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), J. D. Considine called it "a work of unparalleled grace and lyricism", while Q magazine said it "took orchestral jazz in a new direction". Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic about the record and recalled being a young listener when it was released: "In 1960 [it] catapulted Davis into the favor of the kind of man who reads Playboy and initiated in me one phase of the disillusionment with jazz that resulted in my return to rock and roll".
For Sketches of Spain, Evans and Davis won the 1961 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Composition of More Than Five Minutes Duration. The album was ranked number 358 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. According to Acclaimed Music, it is the 393rd most frequently ranked record on critics' all-time lists.
|1.||"Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)"||Joaquín Rodrigo||16:19|
|2.||"Will o' the Wisp"||Manuel de Falla||3:47|
|1.||"The Pan Piper (Alborada de Vigo)"||Traditional||3:52|
- Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–5 on CD reissues.
|6.||"Song of Our Country"||Heitor Villa-Lobos; arranged by Gil Evans||3:23|
|7.||"Concierto de Aranjuez" (alternative take; part 1)||Joaquín Rodrigo||12:04|
|8.||"Concierto de Aranjuez" (alternative take; part 2 ending)||Joaquín Rodrigo||3:33|
Song title meanings
- "Concierto de Aranjuez" was written about the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez.
- "El amor brujo" is often translated as "The Bewitched Love," and it is a composition by contemporary Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.
- "The Pan Piper" refers to the instrument (pan pipe) played by a pig's castrator and knife grinder and the melody he used to play when arriving to villages in Galicia. "Alborada" is a traditional folk style from Galicia.
- "Saeta" is a type of religious song mostly sung during the Semana Santa processions in Spain.
- "Solea" is a form of flamenco music.
Certifications and sales
|United Kingdom (BPI)
sales since 1997
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||861,000|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Miles Davis.com
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- Alkyer, Frank; Enright, Ed; Koransky, Jason, eds. (2007). The Miles Davis Reader. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 213–215. ISBN 978-1423430766.
- Mitchell, Gail (May 26, 2001). "Wife And Muse, Frances Davis Recalls Life With Miles" (PDF). Billboard: 68.
- Crease, Stephanie Stein (2003). Gil Evans: Out of the Cool: His Life and Music. Chicago Review Press; p. 207. ISBN 9781556524936
- Szwed, John (2011). The Man Who Recorded the World: A Biography of Alan Lomax. London, UK: Arrow Books. p. 275. ISBN 9781448107384.
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- Chambers, Jack (1998). Milestones: The Music And Times Of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press; pp. 10-11.
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- Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) . "356 | Sketches of Spain - Miles Davis". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
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Best Jazz Composition Of More Than Five Minutes Duration
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- "Miles Davis". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
- "British album certifications – Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Cwik, Greg (September 25, 2015). "Understanding Miles Davis, in 9 Parts". Vulture. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- "American album certifications – Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.