Many years ago, when this 'ere blog was in its infancy, I had an idea for a post, a kind of Desert Island Discs if you will, but in my case allowing for ten personal favourite tunes rather than the traditional eight. I mulled my selections over for ages, whittled them down and then ultimately declined to put up the results, realising that I could get ten individual posts from this idea, rather than a single overwhelming one. True to my word, some of those songs have made appearances on theses pages, here and there, over the ensuing years and today I'm featuring, if push comes to shove, my ultimate all-time favourite piece of music. It's a bold claim I know, but I find it difficult to put into words just how many hours of pleasure Circle in the Round by Miles Davis has given me.
Circle in the Round was recorded in December 1967 with Miles' core band of Ron Carter on acoustic bass, Wayne Shorter on Sax, Herbie Hancock on keyboards and the magisterial Tony Williams on drums. The crucial additional factor in the session was 21 year old electric guitarist Joe Beck . The resulting epic piece was ultimately shelved, bafflingly remaining unissued for 12 years and then only is the abbreviated 26 minute form shared here today. The full 33 minute session finally saw the light of day a further 19 years later, in 1998.
If you're expecting to hear a straight jazz tune, you won't. If you're expecting some kind of jazz-rock freak-out, you'll be disappointed. Circle in the Round is unique in the Miles Davis canon, completely unlike anything else he recorded. Heaps of tension, very little release and a recurrent theme that will stay with you for days. Hell, I've spent over 40 years trying to describe this piece of music and I'm not getting any closer to the truth of it today.
Do me a favour, mute all your other devices for a while and get an earful of this.