Sunday, May 25, 2008
Miles Davis '56
The first great Miles Davis quintet included John Coltrane, Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones, and Paul Chambers, a group whose every record, honestly, is worthy of attention. This string of LPs, recorded in a blistering artistic marathon on the 11th of May 1956 and the 26th of October in the same year resulted in these four albums released originally on the Prestige record label.
"Cookin'" opens with "My Funny Valentine," just as Davis often did on gigs during this period. Material on all albums offers a nice balance of ballads, blues, and hard-bop warhorses. Coltrane at this point lacked the consistency and otherworldly inspiration of his later work, but he was playing with a force and even a recklessness that contrasted with Davis's quiet ruminations. But on these records Davis is inspired and witty, and Coltrane matches him all the way. Meanwhile, an all-star rhythm section follows them at every step, helping create an organic unity among equals that was unprecedented in jazz before this group.
All told, four CDs no Miles fan can be without.