Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Herbie Hancock (piano); Ron Carter (acoustic bass); Tony Williams (drums).
Producer: Irving Townshend.
Reissue producer: Mike Berniker.
Recorded at Columbia Studios, Los Angeles, California from January 20-22, 1965. Originally released on Columbia (9150). Includes liner notes by Bob Belden.
Digitally remastered using 20-bit technologyby Mark Wilder and Rob Schwarz (Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).
As Miles Davis' music evolved in the early '60s, he worked through aspects of his old repertoire, show tunes and the music of Gil Evans with a series of transitional bands, whose members dated from the late '50s on up. As he gradually assembled his dream band, the music began to take on a more modernist perspective, but it wasn't until he added saxophonist Wayne Shorter that this quintet finally gelled.
E.S.P. marks the beginning of the quintet's collective evolution toward a new brand of modernism: freely inflected, with plenty of room for collective interplay, but still deeply rooted in chordal harmony and swing. After working with Hank Mobley, George Coleman and Sam Rivers, Miles finally got his man when Wayne Shorter left the Jazz Messengers to begin a five year stint with the trumpeter in 1964. The moody impressionistic chords Shorter penned to open "Iris" signal a new texture and harmonic palette for Miles' band, and his serpentine melodic invention, as epitomized by the title cut, acted as a creative catalyst for the entire band.
Shorter went on to become the band's de facto musical director, but on E.S.P. Davis, Hancock and Carter all make significant contributions. "Eighty-One" presages Miles' growing interest in funky, blues-based materials, while "Agitation" features an evocative intro by 19-year old Tony Williams, already moving beyond simple choruses into layers of meter and texture, and followed by Davis, Shorter and Hancock's own jittery coiled solos.
Down Beat (9/92, p.42) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...E.S.P. marks the emergence of this band's unabashed impressionism with originals, the lovely, melancholic "Little One," "Iris," and "Mood" taking the balladic treatment to new heights..."