Miles Davis – Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio)

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The Concierto de Aranjuez is a composition for classical guitar and orchestra by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Written in 1939, it is far and away Rodrigo’s best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the twentieth century. A number of musicians have since reinterpreted the work, usually the second movement, perhaps most famously jazz musician Miles Davis in the company of arranger Gil Evans. On the album Sketches of Spain (1960), Davis says: “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets.”

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.

Sketches of Spain is widely considered by fans and critics to be one of the most accessible albums of Davis’ career. It is less improvisational than much of his other work. Replying to suggestions that Sketches of Spain was something other than jazz, Davis told Rolling Stone magazine, “It’s music, and I like it”.

Miles Davis – trumpet, flugelhorn
Danny Bank – bass clarinet
Bill Barber – tuba
John Barrows – French horn
Albert Block – flute
James Buffington – French horn
Eddie Caine – flute, flugelhorn
Paul Chambers – bass
Earl Chapin – French horn
Jimmy Cobb – drums
Johnny Coles – trumpet
Gil Evans – arranger, conductor
Harold Feldman – clarinet, flute, oboe
Bernie Glow – trumpet
Dick Hixon – trombone
Elvin Jones – percussion
Taft Jordan – trumpet
Jack Knitzer – bassoon
Jose Mangual – percussion
Jimmy McAllister – tuba
Tony Miranda – French horn
Louis Mucci – trumpet
Romeo Penque – oboe
Janet Putnam – harp
Frank Rehak – trombone
Ernie Royal – trumpet
Joe Singer – French horn