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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

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"Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Percussion giant Billy Cobham on triangle for goodness sake. One of Miles Davis’s great achievements was his assemblage of talent, and the inspiration he provided for a collective exploration of new harmonic, melodic and tonal dimensions.

The Davis recordings here are from the late-60s, early-70s, perhaps his most experimental period. He’d already given birth to the Cool and was eager to twiddle the thermostat with future Weather Reporters Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. Compositions by Miles himself and both these collaborators are featured here, with Shorter’s Vonetta, luminous with the colours of Davis’s sustained lines, Shorter’s own ultra-smooth sax and the delicate piano of Herbie Hancock, the most captivating.

Davis as an artist is an apropos source for a film of Kunstlerroman ilk. Constantly restless in his endeavour to satisfy his muses, he developed a personal playing style that was as laconic as his ideas were expansive. That inimitable muted trumpet articulated Spartan phrases with the same ruthless purging of superfluousness found in Hemingway, yet a melodic and harmonic sensibility encompassed the soul of Joyce, Proust and Woolf; a stream of consciousness recorded for posterity.

Miles, however, was never a match for Ornette Coleman in sheer passionate intensity. Coleman threw away the traditional harmony guide, but was able to interweave melodic lines seamless in their logic. In some ways Happy House is the antithesis to Davis. Hot, urgent and pungently spirited. Demanding an attention that we are only too willing to give.

Less vigorous, but more contemporary and contemplative are two tracks by guitarist Bill Frisell. Both Beautiful E. – featuring the beautifully bowed cello of Hank Roberts – and Frisell’s whimsical interpretation of Over The Rainbow are wonderfully sculptured from his shimmering tone.

Over The Rainbow also makes an appearance on this disc in an altogether different guise. Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a huge man with a honeyed voice, accompanied only by a reggae ukulele accent, segues the Wizard of Oz classic with Wonderful World in a spellbinding performance.

Sadly, Kamakawiwo’ole suffered from weight-related ill-health, and died in 1997, aged only 38. But this 1993 recording captures his legacy: a voice in a million. Infinitely rich and resonant; but with a pure, innocent quality; an elasticity facilitating the skipping of octaves and playful phrasing; and a warmth that melts troubles like lemon drops. Utterly enchanting, I have rarely heard such agreeable sentiments interpreted with such easy charm.

This is a soundtrack for all those tempted by the rainbow, by the treasures at the far reaches of the musical spectrum. Miles, Coleman and Co. searched in harmonic complexity, and Kamakawiwo’ole in delightful simplicity. Each uncovered enough gold to enrich us all, while keeping us eternally greedy for more."
Brad Green

Published March 29, 2001

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Vonetta - Miles Davis
Happy House - Ornette Coleman
Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

TITLE: Finding Forrester


MUSIC BY: Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Bill Frisell, E.Y. Harburg

FEATURED PERFORMERS: Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Bill Frisell, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole; plus:

(with Davis): Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Billy Cobham, Jack Dejohnette, Airto Moreira, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and others;

(with Coleman): The London Symphoney Orchestra, Dewey Redman, Don Cherry, Bobby Bradford, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Ed Blackwell;

(with Frisell): Ron Miles, Curtis Fowlkes, Eyvind Kang, Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll, Joey Baron.


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