Instrumental in the development of jazz, Miles Davis is considered one of the top musicians of his era. Born in Illinois in 1926, he traveled at age 18 to New York City to pursue music.
Throughout his life, he was at the helm of a changing concept of jazz. Winner of eight Grammy awards, Miles Davis died in 1991 from respiratory distress in Santa Monica, California.
Kind of Blue
Davis recorded several albums with his sextet during the 1950s, including Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue, his final album of the decade, released in 1959. Now considered one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded, Kind of Blue is credited as the largest-selling jazz album of all time, selling more than 2 million copies.
Davis continued to be be successful throughout the 1960s. His band transformed over time, largely due to new band members and changes in style. The various members of his band went on to become some of the most influential musicians of the jazz fusion era. These included Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul (Weather Report), Chick Corea (Return to Forever), and John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra).
This was the opening track on Kind Of Blue, which is arguably the biggest-selling Jazz album of all time. It was recorded by Miles Davis in 2 days giving only brief instructions to a new band – yet all tracks were recorded in one take. It is also counted by many as the greatest Jazz album of all time and ranks at or near the top of many “best album” lists. Rolling Stone magazine, for instance, placed it 12th on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
In 2007 this was voted the best-ever Jazz record in a poll of listeners of the UK radio station Jazz FM.
George Cole, who wrote The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991, explains why Davis is so important: “Miles Davis is to jazz is what Mozart is to classical music or The Beatles are to popular music. He is by far the most influential jazz musician of all time and it’s unlikely that anyone will ever supplant this position. He started out as a teenager playing bebop (a frenetic style of jazz) with the saxophonist giant Charlie Parker, and ended almost 50 years later, combining jazz with hip-hop. He recorded the best known album in jazz (Kind of Blue) while still in his early 30s and it contains the best known jazz track: ‘So What.'” (For more on Miles Davis,read our interview with George Cole.)
This was one of three tracks on Kind Of Blue that was originally recorded in the wrong key later to be tidied up on re-releases (the other two were “Freddie Freeloader” and “Blue in Green”).
VINYL EDITION OF THE MILES DAVIS QUINTET’S THE LEGENDARY PRESTIGE QUINTET SESSIONS SET FOR RELEASENOVEMBER 8TH VIA CRAFT RECORDINGSIN CELEBRATION OF THE 7OTH ANNIVERSARY OF PRESTIGE RECORDS DELUXE BOX SET INCLUDES SIX 180-GRAM LPS HOUSED IN 20-PAGE HARDCOVER PORTFOLIO FEATURING ALL TRACKS FROMMILES: THE NEW MILES DAVIS QUINTET, COOKIN’, RELAXIN’, WORKIN’, STEAMIN’, PLUS BONUS MATERIAL
Los Angeles, CA (September 16, 2019)—Craft Recordingsis pleased to announce the release of the vinyl box set edition of The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions from The Miles Davis Quinteton November 8th. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Prestige Records, the deluxe six-LP set presents the quintet’s marathon sessions for the iconic jazz label, recorded between 1955–56, which resulted in classic albums such as Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’. Plus, the box set offers a bonus LP with audio from radio and TV appearances by the group. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI, the discs are housed in a collectible 20-page hardcover linen-wrapped portfolio-style book, featuring stunning photographs of Davis and the band, plus in-depth liner notes from esteemed jazz historian Bob Blumenthal. Miles Davis’ First Great Quintet was assembled in 1955—a pivotal year for the trumpeter and bandleader. Following a triumphant set at the Newport Jazz Festival, Davis was at the top of his game, and enjoying newfound recognition by industry leaders, critics, and fans alike. With a lineup that featured pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Philly Joe Jones and a relatively unknown tenor saxophonist named John Coltrane (replacing Sonny Rollins), the unit became the dominant small jazz group of the late ’50s and helped define the hard-bop genre. In his liner notes, Bob Blumenthal writes “The Miles Davis Quintet heard here was Davis’ means of seizing the moment when his physical health and his musical concepts were on an upswing…This is the band Davis organized when he wanted his recordings to stand for more than snapshots of his momentary interests.” Over the course of a year—from November 1955 to October 1956—the quintet recorded three exceptionally productive sessions with famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder, simulating nightclub sets at Van Gelder’s Hackensack, New Jersey studio. The resulting 32 tracks—presented in chronological order in this collection—would make up five complete and significant albums: the quintet’s 1956 debut release, Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet, Cookin’ (1957), Relaxin’(1958), Workin’ (1959), and Steamin’ (1961). The quintet’s recording of “’Round Midnight” would represent this ensemble’s lone contribution to the album Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (1959). The majority of these tracks are pop and jazz standards, along with several original compositions from Davis. Highlights include a rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” which Davis would adopt as a signature tune, a scorching drum solo from Jones on “Salt Peanuts,” Davis’ exquisite use of the Harmon mute on the intimate ballads “My Funny Valentine” and “It Never Entered My Mind,” Garland’s inspiring solo on “If I Were a Bell,” and a standout performance from the rhythm section on “Blues by Five.” Blumenthal writes that during this era, “Davis understood the potential of the new, longer 12-inch album format, and used it to create definitive performances in a variety of moods.” Adding, “The key was contrast, which began with the juxtaposition of Davis’ concision, Coltrane’s complexity, and Garland’s sparkle; extended to the textural variety the rhythm section provided each soloist; and was capped by the distinctive range of the band’s repertoire.” Because much of the Quintet’s material was performed outside of the studio—in nightclubs and concert halls—a bonus LP is included, which features eight TV and radio appearances, including live performances at Café Bohemia, the Blue Note in Philadelphia and on Tonight Starring Steve Allen, offering a broader view of the group’s exceptional work together. The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions was originally released as a CD box set in 2006, garnering wide critical acclaim. Jazz Times wrote that “To sit down with the 32 [tracks], from “Stablemates” to “My Funny Valentine,” is to fall in love all over again with irreplaceable music whose magic is utterly manifest yet elusive of description.” All Music proclaimed, “Miles freaks…will have to have this,” while Pop Matters declared the collection to be “Perfect.” Upon its release, it peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Click here to pre-order The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions 6-LP box set. TRACK LISTING Disc 1 SIDE A1. Stablemates2. How Am I to Know?3. Just Squeeze Me SIDE B1. There Is No Greater Love2. The Theme3. S’posin Disc 2 SIDE A1. In Your Own Sweet Way2. Diane3. Trane’s Blues SIDE B1. Something I Dreamed Last Night2. It Could Happen to You3. Woody’n You Disc 3 SIDE A1. Ahmad’s Blues2. Surrey with the Fringe on Top3. It Never Entered My Mind SIDE B1. When I Fall in Love2. Salt Peanuts3. Four4. The Theme (take 1) 5. The Theme (take 2) Disc 4 SIDE A1. If I Were a Bell2. Well You Needn’t3. ’Round Midnight SIDE B1. Half Nelson2. You’re My Everything3. I Could Write a Book4. Oleo Disc 5 SIDE A1. Airegin2. Tune Up3. When Lights Are Low SIDE B1. Blues by Five2. My Funny Valentine Disc 6 SIDE A1. Steve Allen Intro*2. Max Is Making Wax aka Chance It*3. Steve Allen Intro 2*4. It Never Entered My Mind*5. Tune Up^6. Walkin’^ SIDE B1. Four#2. Bye Bye Blackbird#3. Walkin’#4. Two Bass Hit# *11/17/55 The Tonight Show with Steve Allen^12/8/56 The Blue Note, Philadelphia, PA#5/17/58 Café Bohemia, New York, NY
Miles Davis is my undisputed heavyweight champion of jazz, and Kind Of Blue is the best jazz album of all time…end of story. Before I ever thought about playing guitar, I was a trumpet player, and Miles was this mythical figure, impossibly cool and godly talented. Kind Of Blue came out in 1959, 2 years before I was born. It was a break from the bebop style that was immensely popular at the time in favor of a newer, modal style of improvisation. Davis had a crew of monster players, including the mighty John Coltrane and “Cannonball” Adderly on tenor and alto saxophones, respectively, and Bill Evans on piano. These sublimely talented soloists breathed creative fire into the 5 compositions on Kind Of Blue and essentially made jazz (indeed, music in general) history. This album is timeless and will continue to influence musicians and provide musical bliss for generations to come.