Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Randy Hall (vocals, celeste, Moog synthesizer, guitar); Bill Evans (soprano & tenor saxophones); Robert Irving III (piano, keyboards); Mike Stern, Barry Finnerty (guitar); Marcus Miller, Felton Crews (electric bass); Al Foster, Vincent Wilburn (drums); Sammy Figueroa (percussion).
Recorded at CBS Studios, New York, New York.
For Miles Davis, the six year layoff between the release of PANGAEA and THE MAN WITH THE HORN was marked by isolation, physical pain and dependency...a sense of inertia. At points on THE MAN WITH THE HORN you can hear him straining to get his chops back up, although ultimately, his musicianly instincts served him well during odd passages of rope-a-doping, and for every broken note there is a blast of vintage Miles.
THE MAN WITH THE HORN introduces yet another striking band, featuring future leaders such as reedman Bill Evans, guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Marcus Miller and drum innovator Al Foster. The opening "Fat Time" combines Miles' love for the flamenco airs and melodic gravity of Spain with a contemporary hard funk style. Evans and Stern act as virtuoso foils, a la Coltrane and Hendrix, the latter's influence apparent in Barry Finnerty's boiling clouds of distortion on "Back Seat Betty" (which settles into a coy, laid back blues vehicle for Miles' muted horn), and a rivetting "Aida," in which Miles reprises the rhythmic tumult of his mid-'70s band with dramatic give and take between his horn and a fiery guitar-driven vamp, as Al Foster thunders away underneath.
Miles, the avant garde experimentalist of the '70s, never revealed his affection for pop music and song forms we hear in the sentimental R&B devotionals of the title tune or the straight up funk of "Shout." But in closing, as if to reasure us, the swinging, medium-tempo walking blues "Ursula" suggests that no matter the setting or historical milieu, Miles Davis always remains...Miles Davis.
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