Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Miles Davis Quintet - 2nd Session 1956 Revisited (ezz-thetics, 2022)

By 1956, trumpeter Miles Davis was in ascendence, having just signed a lucrative contract with Columbia Records. He led one of the finest bands in the business with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. But Davis was still obligated to Prestige records at this time and owed them a sizable chunk of music to be clear of that contract. Marathon sessions were scheduled, and this disc focuses on the ones recorded in May and October of 1956 in order to complete the requirements of Davis's recording contract. Davis keeps the nature of the sessions informal, concentrating on the material they played nightly in the clubs, on this occasion beginning with Garland's bright spare piano notes to open the album with "If I Were A Bell" then giving way to Davis's gentle and thoughtful reading of the melody. This has a mild middle tempo performance (it was even released as a jukebox 45!) as opposed to the up-tempo version of "Oleo", composed by Sonny Rollins which has plenty of room for Coltrane to stretch out, as does the other Rollins composition "Airegin" which is played in the same manner allowing Coltrane to demonstrate his early "sheets of sound" manner of soloing. There is also a concertation on ballads, of which Davis was a master and his focused and unhurried rendition "You're My Everything" are highlight of this disc. Their treatment of Thelonious Monk compositions are quite memorable as well, Davis is typically brilliant on the moody and atmospheric "'Round Midnight" while they stretch out the knotty "Well, You Needn't" with some fine soloing and ensemble passages. Davis gets Garland to stay on side, instructing him in the "less is more" style of Ahmad Jamal, and avoiding the near confrontation Miles had with the year before with Monk himself about piano accompaniment. Regardless, this disc is a slice of history, and performances from the these sessions began the Davis legend that would vault him into the stratosphere in the space of a few years. Ezz-thetics remastering is typically excellent and the music jumps from the speakers, framed by an essay from noted jazz historian Brian Morton, putting it all in context. 2nd Session 1956 Revisited - Squidco

Send comments to Tim.