Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Miles Davis: The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions [Columbia/Legacy, 2003]
Fewer than half of the 42 tracks are previously unreleased--dark magus Teo Macero broke up and relocated most of the others onto Live-Evil, Big Fun, Get Up With It, the obscure late catchall Directions, and, yes, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, the landmark album that climaxes this five-disc collector's indulgence. Outfitted with the usual pricey packaging and elaborate notes, it's "complete" only if the four missing "Duran"s, 15 missing "Nem Um Talvaez"s, etc., were false starts. But it's a mother of a motherlode. I'm glad Macero imposed his sense of form on Miles's '70s experiments, and definitely don't need the Bitches Brew box. But though the "Go Ahead John" Macero pieced together for Big Fun gets the good bits, I'd rather listen to the raw material that takes up 45 minutes of disc two. Though the multiple Hermeto Pascoal takes add up to a quiet disc four, they're as soothing as they wanna be. With major input from John McLaughlin and the bass tandem of Dave Holland and Michael Henderson, these jams were why electric jazz was once a thrilling idea--and still is sometimes. B+