Sweet Soul (For Miles Davis)

Chris Potter wasn’t the only rising young jazz star to appear on Red Rodney’s Red Alert!  Pianist Dave Kikoski also puts in a strong performance, and contributes this tune.

To be honest, I don’t really like this song, but if you’re looking for a tutorial on writing “smooth” jazz, this composition is worth studying.  It has many of the requisite elements:

  • a simple diatonic melody
  • florid harmony full of inversions and unpredictable changes in tonal center – the only real V / I resolution in the tune is the:
  • modulation to a distant key center (D major) to heighten tension
  • extra synthesizers and percussion to add exotic timbres
  • modal vamps to show off impressive soloing chops
  • plenty of reverb!

Sweet Soul (For Miles Davis)Sweet Soul (For Miles Davis)

To be fair, Miles Davis himself put his name on a few songs that seem more ‘sweet’ than ‘soul’, but I suspect he wouldn’t have wanted his name on this particular tribute.  It’s telling that the only tune from this album that’s still part of today’s jazz repertoire is “Little Willie Leaps”, the one written by Miles in 1947 .

I should also say that I’m a big fan of Dave Kikoski, and he has under his belt many unique and impressive performances that stand the test of time better than this one.  Here’s just one: E

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