Sketches of Spain Album by Miles Davis 1959-1960
by Jan Dean
Come fly. Lean into sound. Listen, and see. The rattle of castanets could be fingers of bone scampering, or children clicking knucklebones. Spanish flavours infiltrate immense sadness. Longing is boundless like dry grass swishing side-to-side from foreground to infinity. I catch myself floating, aimless, on a dark endless ocean, until a mellow trumpet shifts my course and a slow whirl of falling leaves becomes a group of dancers, swirling ecstasy. They dip and sway, flicking fans. Lace shawls and flounces taunt. Twisters fall, depleted leaving faint echoes. In a song of awakening townsfolk stretch and yawn as light penetrates their tin-whistle world. Depth and richness saturate life in all its variety: A rousing street procession of kettledrums sounds the beat for a joyous pageant turned death march and a heart-wrenching solo nudges bowed heads mourning. Soon, a trumpet fanfare moves the procession on, confirming all that has gone before — Humanity’s lot: Love, loss, quest, bliss, sorrow. Supporters gather for free flight, run the emotive gamut face magnificent pain, sense mortality and sigh.
Wikipedia says: Sketches of Spain is regarded as an exemplary recording of Third Stream, a musical fusion of jazz, European classical, and styles from world music.
This flawless fusion of musical styles contains elements of classical while retaining a sense of jazz. The opening is a sixteen minute arrangement that sets a high standard for the energy and power that follows. The opener is a 16 minute arrangement of masterful proportions, and it perfectly sets the tone for how passionate this record is. Spanish Reverie describes visual images brought forth from a session listening to Sketches of Spain and suggests emotional responses. The result feels like exhaustion combined with soaring and a sense of deep satisfaction.
Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, has lived most of her life on Awabakal country. She won the Senior Award for Poetry sponsored by Baytree by Ardency at Lane Cove in 2019. Her pocketbook Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings, the result of a 2012 competition for unpublished work suitable for translation into Mandarin, was released by Flying Islands, Macau, late 2014. Her collection With One Brush (Interactive Publications, 2007) was short-listed for the Mary Gilmore Award. Her work has appeared in Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies in 2015, 2009 and 2005.
Currently her poetry may be viewed on Verity La and Not Very Quiet. She has never been there, but enjoys dreaming and writing about Spain. One such example will be published in Pulped Fiction by Spineless Wonders in 2021.