Thursday, November 21, 2013

Miles Davis - The Original Mono Recordings (Legacy, 2013)

This is a nine disc boxed set that covers the early acoustic jazz albums that Miles Davis recorded for Columbia, along with a booklet containing a short essay and comments from the engineer involved in remastering the music and some period photographs. Apparently mono is where all music is produced through a single audio channel and this was the default way this music was originally recorded before being remixed into stereo for subsequent reissues. The producers and engineers interviewed for this project claim that this will produce a clearer, more lifelike sound. The certainly seem to sound very good to my untrained ears and would probably pack even more punch if played on a nice audio system. The larger group recordings, collaborations between Davis and arranger Gil Evans like Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain seem to have a fine texture to them, providing greater detail in the ensemble and more presence for Davis’ solos whether on flugelhorn or trumpet. Small band recordings like the epochal Kind of Blue along with Round Midnight, Someday My Prince Will Come and Milestones receive the right amount of punch and clarity. Two additional recordings are included, Jazz Track which features the Davis improvised score for the French film Lift to the Scaffold, along with three small group recordings circa 1958. Miles and Monk live at Newport is a split LP of live performances by the groups of Davis and Thelonious Monk. It should be noted that these albums are presented as they were originally released at the time, with cover art restored on replica LP card stock, including original liner notes in case you happen to be in possession of a research-grade microscope since the font size is approximately 0.1. Also be aware that there are no “bonus cuts” as there may have been on previous reissues of this material. The idea of this boxed set seems to be a glimpse back in time replicating the original recordings as they were released in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s with original art, running order and monaural sound mix. The Original Mono Recordings -

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