When the Miles Davis album On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) was released, Davis had already begun to engage in electronic instrumentation and jazz fusion with soon to be revered recordings: In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969), Bitch’s Brew (Columbia, 1970) and Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971). On the Corner, however, was so experimental and funky that it incurred the wrath of many critics and sales were minimal. Still, in the ensuing decades, it has come to be regarded as a pioneering work that anticipated and influenced not only the subsequent development of jazz but also hip-hop, jungle, post-rock, and other styles that have defined public taste and topped the popular music charts. On the album, Davis played electric organ more than trumpet, used musicians like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Don Alias, and John McLaughlin curiously without mentioning their names, and experimented with tape-splicing and electronic effects he picked up from avant-garde classical composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. What initially appeared to be Davis’ downfall proved to possess innovative power. On a larger cultural plane, the album embodied the flowering of the hippie era with its psychedelics and radical lifestyle, and especially in Davis’ own thoughts, the freeing of African American youth from entrenched traditions in music and lifestyle.
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