NEW RELEASES : JAZZ : Miles Davis Leaves a Hip-Hop Finale : ** 1/2 MILES DAVIS, “Doo-Bop”. <i> Warner Bros.</i>
This, the late trumpet icon’s last recording, finds him exploring hip-hop, apropos since Davis continually placed his signature sound in contemporary pop, rock and R&B; settings. If “Doo-Bop” succeeds only in fits and starts, that’s probably more a result of this being a first-time venture than of the strength of Davis’ playing or the appropriateness of the hip-hop context.
Collaborator Easy Mo Bee’s rhythm tracks are generally looser and more lightly textured than most rap productions, but some are colorless and his seriously lame delivery of a rap extolling Davis’ virtues severely undercuts the title track.
Interestingly, the same elements coalesce on “Blow,” as Easy Mo Bee delivers a strong rap over a buoyant rhythm track and Davis tailors his phrases to fit the vibrant groove like a glove. It’s the best performance on the album, musically substantial and a piece that hip-hop and dance club youth can easily embrace.
There are other high spots--notably, Davis playing off James Brown-style rhythm guitar licks on “Chocolate Chip” and “High Speed Chase” and the way Easy Mo Bee skillfully sets him up on “Fantasy” with a melody reminiscent of Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay.” But the rigidity of the hip-hop rhythms periodically reduces Davis’ muted-laced-with-echo trumpet to just another instrumental color in the mix.
New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).