Contemporary Jazz Quintet
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Kenny Cox was watching Miles Davis closely in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Detroit pianist was hardly alone, of course—but the first two albums by Cox’s Contemporary Jazz Quintet (released on Blue Note in 1968-69) may have picked up the gauntlet of Davis’s great ‘60s quintet more firmly than any other jazz band of the time. The Quintet’s third album, Location, didn’t come until 1973—on Cox’s own Strata Records, its inaugural release—and by that time, Cox had learned the lessons of In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, too.
Location reshaped those lessons, however. Bassist Ron Brooks retains his upright acoustic, replacing aggressive funk with a steady thrum that becomes nearly subliminal beneath Cox’s electric piano, trumpeter Charles Moore and saxophonist Leon Henderson’s horns, and Danny Spencer or Bud Spangler’s percussions. The drummers, too, deviate from Davis’s fusion template: They have the longer-distance miking and thudding low-end, but hew closer to conventional swing, even if—as on “Nzugo Saba (Struggle)”—it’s lightning fast.