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Miles Davis: Miles Davis

Album Notes

Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); J.J. Johnson (trombone); Horace Silver, Gil Coggins (piano); Oscar Pettiford, Percy Heath (bass); Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey (drums).

Producer: Alfred Lion.

Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.

Engineers: Doug Hawkins, Rudy Van Gelder.

Recorded at WOR Studios, New York, New York on May 9, 1952; the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on March 6, 1954.

Digitally remastered by Rudy Van Gelder (2001).

This is part of Blue Note's Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.

The three sessions Miles Davis organized for Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records in 1952, 1953 and 1954 rank among the most fully realized of his early works preceding the Prestige and Columbia recordings. MILES DAVIS, VOLUME 1 compiles the first and third sessions on one disc: the latter a quartet in which Miles is the featured horn, the former a sextet where the trumpeter shares the front line with trombone innovator J.J. Johnson, and a young Jackie McLean.

The 1952 date features bebop innovators Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke who provide a subtle style of locomotion--fast and light on swingers, shimmering and warm on ballads. "Chance It" is a brisk bopper with built-in rhythmic breaks, but the band is most effective on medium up selections such as the lyric folk tune "Dear Old Stockholm," the wonderful blues line "Donna" and Gillespie's classic "Woody 'N You." The ballads are especially choice, focusing on Davis' extraordinary timbre and vocal style of phrasing, particularly a luminous, rueful reading of "Yesterdays," and a wistful "How Deep Is The Ocean."

The 1954 date with pianist Horace Silver, bassist Percy Heath and a fiery Art Blakey puts Miles in a Jazz Messengers-styled groove, and from the funky stops and starts of "Take Off" through the blazing changes of "The Leap," his long lines are masterfully developed and full of rhythmic drive. But the more moderate tempos better suit Davis and Silver's sense of interplay, such as the moanin' blues "Weirdo" and a sly reading of Monk's "Well You Needn't." The closing ballad "It Never Entered My Mind" is a masterpiece, where Silver answers Davis' elegiac muted horn with rippling arpeggios and Bud Powell-like harmonic gravity.


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