George Avakian, who was in charge of an ethnic music series at Columbia directed by the ethno-musicologist Alan Lomax, especially wanted Gil Evans to work with flamenco because of his knowledge of Spanish composers. In fact, Miles Davis himself had simultaneously discovered Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto De Aranjuez” and flamenco - thanks to both an anthology brought back from Spain by the actress Beverly Bentley and a concert to which Frances Taylor had taken him.
The result was majestic music in which Evans skirted the kitsch of Rodrigo’s original score and held his own with the help of Miles’ lofty trumpet. Along with the adagio from “Concierto,” Gil borrowed Manuel de Falla’s “Will O’ The Wisp,” and adapted “The Pan Piper” from a panpipe aria recorded by Lomax in Galicia and “Saeta” from an eponymous ritual chant sung to the accompaniment of the brass bands escorting the processions in Seville during Holy Week. In this last piece and in “Solea,” Miles drew on the ardor of flamenco singing while distancing himself from all traces of the folkloric.
His first release after Kind Of Blue, Davis' playing on the classic Sketches Of Spain is absolutely effortless and he offers up some of the most dramatic and breathtakingly brooding solos of his career here. The album’s cover is also a true classic as it features the first appearance of the silhouette logo which would become the ultimate trademark of the artist.
Said one critic: "It is as if Miles had been born of Andalusian gypsies, but instead of picking up the guitar, had decided to make a trumpet the expression of his cante hondo (deep song)."