This one’s a little different from usual, but if you ever wondered what Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker might sound like if they ever played together, there’s actually an answer for you.
… Although this album presents itself as the soundtrack to the film The Hot Spot, like many such releases it bares little relation to the music that was actually used in the film — not that much of this music was actually used. All one really needs to know about the film itself, other than the fact that it was directed by Dennis Hopper, is that it is awful, even by bad film standards. That it was the impetus for this marvelous music to be made is something listeners should be thankful for, particularly fans of either Miles Davis or John Lee Hooker. Anyone who grew up with the former artist during his electric transfusions of the ’60s and ’70s probably wondered why he wasn’t playing with John Lee Hooker the whole time, since they both seemed headed in the same direction. In fact, one wonders why it took this crummy film and the personal appeal of its director to bring these two musical giants together. That they didn’t seek to do something like this on their own can be looked at as a character flaw, one that can only be forgiven after listening to how wonderfully they interact here. An important aspect of the magic is their individual genius in the art of playing blues music in such utterly personal ways. There is no mistaking the sound of either Hooker or Davis for anyone else, with layer upon layer of detail backing that up — the actual sound of their instruments is distinctive, their choices of notes and timing completely unusual and impossible to imitate, and they both have a knack for casually making even the most basic sort of band track sound as if it is a style of music that has never been played before. No matter how many times one may have heard a bar band break into what they think is a Hooker boogie, a brief recovery period will still be required after first exposure to the tracks here. Often during his recording career, Hooker was able to get a particularly scintillating rhythm section sound going with whatever pros had been assembled for the occasion. This is one of these sessions, but it indeed makes it seem like a royal visit to have Davis blowing over the top of these grooves…
And here’s the soundtrack in its entirety. Prepare to be grooved.
It’s like somebody told them to get moody and atmospheric and they ran with it. Simply brilliant.