Kei Akagi – New Smiles and Traveled Miles

Kei Akagi Kei Akagi
New Smiles and Traveled Miles
(Green Note – 2000)
by Sidney Bechet-Mandela

Maybe I was expecting too much, knowing Akagi’s impressive resume. As a piano trio record, a tribute to Miles Davis doesn’t seem like a bad idea, especially with a few quality standards thrown in that he was known to play. How could you lose, especially with a Miles Davis alumnus? Well, lets just say, Herbie would’ve made a better tribute record. Heck, maybe all of Miles ‘ key-boys would’ve, from Red Garland to Bobby Irving III. Again, not that’ s it’s a bad idea, but there’s none of Miles spirit in this 12 song snoozer.

Other than a decent version of Miles’ “Petit Machins,” Akagi is self-indulgent and quite introspective. So was Miles you say, yeah, but he always had a stellar supporting cast. Programming the 1947 “Milestones,” next to the 1955 song “Miles,” that became incorrectly known as “Milestones,” was a cute idea, and taking the older more lyrical line a tad slower works, but the latter tune is a hard angular bopper that not only wasn’t written for introspection, it sounds corny when tried. The range of Miles’ music performed here is broad, even going up to the Marcus Miller years, which Akagi was a part of, and performing a tepid version of the bassist’s tribute to Jaco, “Mr. Pastorius.” Usually bad tribute albums just make me want to hear the honored musician. This one just made me want to take it off.