My favorite musical discoveries often appear on the most unexpected detours. As I leapt from one Twitter feed to another last week, I was surprised to learn that Robert Glasper recently crafted an entire album of reinvented Miles Davis tunes.
Even better, there was a music video for his take on eternal jam Maiysha, with new vocals courtesy of Erykah Badu.
There’s an extended version of the video with bad acting and strange accents, but the song is what’s important. So I’ve got that version here:
Right there we’ve got two of my favorite artists, Davis and Badu, glued together by jazz veteran pianist Robert Glasper. Glasper has worked with dozens of hip-hop artists over the years, from Q-Tip to Kanye West, Common, J Dilla, Mos Def, and so many others. He was also the primary architect for the Miles Ahead soundtrack, rearranging and editing Davis’ classic oeuvre into a fresh experience for a new generation. In other words, he’s more qualified than anyone to bind modern sensibilities to a monumental classic.
The song is a fun twist on the original, which appeared on one of my favorite albums of all time, Get Up With It. Badu’s vocals are light and playful, conjuring the ghost of Brazilian chanteuses like Astrud Gilberto. It feels odd at first but quickly makes itself comfortable over the band’s solid groove. As the song builds, a trumpet sample from the man with the horn himself enters in perfect harmony with Glasper’s Rhodes melody.
As a lifelong Miles Davis fan, this is one of the best tributes I’ve ever heard. The album can be heard streaming on Spotify or purchased on vinyl from the Miles Davis store.