Get Up With It, like Big Fun (1974) before it, is a double album of mega-jazz funk-rock fusion, consisting of material lifted from sessions between 1970 and 1974, and while not quite of the calibre of other landmark albums at the height of Miles Davis’ electric phase (In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson and On the Corner to name a few), it is an often challenging and highly rewarding listen.
Consisting of top-drawer session musicians, a who’s-who of 70s jazz-rock, and some long term Miles collaborators in John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and David Liebman, Miles and producer Teo Mecero piece together eight weighty tracks of psychedelic soul (closing track Billy Preston his names sake who does not appear on the album), expansive improv (the distorted wah-pedal trumpet of Calypso Frelimo a jazz-counterpart to Sister Ray) and at times bizarre feverish experimentation (Miles’ harsh organ chords on Rated X), resulting in an album somewhat underappreciated among his massive catalogue and ignored upon its release (the jazz purists couldn’t handle it, just a wall of noise and dense textures to them), yet ultimately, and proven to be, timeless and futuristic. A brilliant culmination of his late 60s-early-70s experiments in jazz-rock fusion.
The album’s magnum-opus is lead-off track He Loved Him Madly. Emotionally hypnotic and darkly intense, the 32-minute track (dedicated to the recently deceased Duke Ellington) is simply one of the greatest jazz moments of all time, and Miles Davis’ most profound statement on record. It can easily hold its own on anything from Bitches Brew and remains a lasting influence on a number of musician’s work from Brian Eno to late-great guitarist Robert Quine.
Get Up With It marked the beginning of a six year hiatus from the music industry for Miles (he would return with 1981’s unspectacular The Man With the Horn), and listening now to this sprawling masterpiece and staring at its mysterious smoky cover, it reinforces his iconic status cementing his standing as a musical colossus for the ages.
- He Loved Him Madly ∗∗∗∗∗
- Maiysha ∗∗∗∗∗
- Honky Tonk ∗∗∗
- Rated X ∗∗
- Calypso Frelimo ∗∗∗∗
- Red China Blues ∗∗∗∗
- Mtume ∗∗∗∗
- Billy Preston ∗∗∗∗