Miles Davis (Trumpet)
Steve Grossman (Saxophone), Herbie Hancock (Organ), John McLaughlin (Guitar), Michael Henderson (Electric Bass), Billy Cobham (Drums)
Miles Davis’ A Tribute to Jack Johnson is the best jazz-rock record ever made. Inspired equally by the bandleader’s desire to assemble “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band you’ve ever heard” and his reverence for Johnson, Davis crafted a hard-hitting set brimming with excitement, intensity, majesty and power. Combining the electric fusion he’d pursued on earlier works with a funkier, dirtier rhythmic approach, Davis focuses on concepts of spontaneity, freedom, and identity rarely achieved in the studio
Guitarist John McLaughlin’s use of wah-wah and distortion comes across here with a sharp blade, a cutting style and a biting attitude that allows A Tribute to Jack Johnson to finally cross the line between rock and jazz. Davis puts both feet in the former camp, finally erasing any divide. The album features not only McLaughlin’s stirring performance, but also the headliner’s blistering trumpet solos like never before. Davis’ passages in the high registers explode with power and commanding presence. Around him, a barrage of urgent backbeats, cutting riffs and three-dimensional bass lines emerge amidst an inky black backdrop.