MILES DAVIS – Sketches Of Spain

As I’ve said before – I really, really hate Jazz. Jazz to music is what Whose Line Is It Anyway is to comedy – we forgive the crap jokes because they thought them up on the spot. Except with Whose Line Is It Anyway the topics are thought out beforehand, and in Jazz they have been playing the same bloody tune for years. In the case of Sketches Of Spain the orchestra had been playing the same tune for months because Miles Davis couldn’t be arsed to turn up. Oh if only he had kept to his laxness, this particularly stupid album would not exist.

Sketches Of Spain is as much about Spain as those little flamenco dolls you can buy at the airport and have a weeny gold sticker on them saying Made In Taiwan. For there is only one thing that makes this so called seminal piece of work pretend to be Spanish – there are castanets on it. Beyond that it is boring old Miles Davis. A man so dull that in the world of jazz where you would get given a nickname even if you had a slightly funny shaped head – he was always called Miles. There are some clicking castanets and then twelve minutes of tedious trumpet solos which really could sum up the essence of loneliness. Miles was no stranger to loneliness after all, since everyone fucked off when he got going.

The story goes of course that “Dull” – as Davis might have been called if he had to have a nickname – heard a recording of Concierto de Aranjuez and fell in love with it. This begs the question why on earth would he want to fuck it up with his ponderous solos. Nevertheless he played it to his even duller mate Gil Evans, at which point Evans set about making his orchestra sound like a big Spanish guitar. Now if I wanted something to sound like a big Spanish guitar I wouldn’t get forty people – some of whom are playing oboes and timpani. No, what I would do is go to a shop and buy a big Spanish guitar. Of course if this was me – Tanya Headon – we were talking about I would then proceed to smash Miles Davis round the head with it – but then that’s all I’ve ever seen fit to do with musical instruments.*

Any idea of complexity on this album is scuppered by the very cover of it. Red and yellow background – well that’s the SPANISH flag. Miles Davis – weapon of woe in hand – on the left and on the other side of the cover a bull. As in bullfighting the national SPANISH sport : simplistic stereotype – cheers. How I often look at that cover (I broke the record years ago) and urge that bull to stampede across the twelve inches going for the gore. Finally Miles would see how a horn should really be used.

*The only exception to this rule is the piccolo which is too small to hit anyone with, but perfect for ramming up someone’s arse and watching them go “peep-peep” as they try and run away