Aura – the wonderful 1989 album by Miles Davis has been described by Allmusic’s editor Thom Jurek as “an amalgam of classical impressionism, European new music, jazz, rock, electronic and other genres”. A fitting description of one of my favourite recordings. It was first brought to my attention by Dave Scarth, who plays bass on several tracks on “Days of Sun and Days of Rain”. I dedicate this track to him in gratitude.
All compositions and arrangements on Aura are by Palle Mikkelborg. The main theme consists of 10 notes, yielded by the letters “M-I-L-E-S-D-A-V-I-S” It is introduced at the beginning over a sustained chord of these same notes.
It was this album, and approach to composition, that became a starting point for this track under discussion: “The Glory of the Moment”. Ideas and influences are drawn from across Aura, with ‘Green’ being of particular importance.
I began by initially improvising/composing the second guitar solo which begins at 2:20. This is mostly drawn from the notes of an octatonic scale. Simple major and minor chords were drawn from this melody and assigned to an electric piano accompaniment. The chords are not diatonic or ‘functional’ in the conventional sense. The strength and cohesion of the progression depends on identifying small intervals between the notes in successive chords:
The bass part, written by Dave Scarth, is based around this chord progression. Each of the remaining three guitar solos uses some or all of this chord progression as an accompaniment.
The interludes are more abstract in terms of harmonic underpinning and allow the bass guitar considerable freedom – leading to some beautifully devised interludes. The glory of the moment is indeed celebrated!
This is a particularly expressive piece, which gracefully brings the album to a restful conclusion. My work is done…