Big Fun

Not Rated

Most of Big Fun consists of outtakes from Bitches Brew and Live/Evil days, and one can only wonder why superb performances like "Great Expectations" and "Lonely Fire" were canned. The former piece gets a mesmerizing, other-worldly texture from electric sitar, tamboura, berimbau (Brazilian musical bow) and electric guitar and has one of Miles's most lyrical lines. In effect, both pieces are all-star sessions, with John McLaughlin. Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and Airto featured. "Ife" is the most recent performance and in many ways the most interesting, with elusive, squiggly reeds, terrific keyboards by Lonnie Liston Smith and delicately propulsive percussion by Mtume and Badal Roy. Only "Go Ahead John" misses, largely because two trumpets are overdubbed, causing some congestion, and because McLaughlin's solo is painfully distorted, as if it were coming through a Sears & Roebuck amp with its fuses blown. But essentially Big Fun is the most consistently appealing, varied and adventurous Miles Davis album since Live/Evil, commands attention as such, and will doubtless give Davis's many imitators something to think about.