Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
The Miles Davis Quintet
A long time ago but not that far away, in a world that was beginning to expand ever more rapidly, there existed a tightly knit community where excellent musicians were drawn together to play evolving styles of Jazz. That’s the real beauty of Jazz recordings made a half-century ago. The music feels as new now as it did then and playing with each great horn player is an equally great pianist, bassman, drummer, and so on. The result is magical. This reissued recording from 1956 is no exception.
Originally recorded on May 1 and October 26, 1956, these songs feature not only Miles Davis on trumpet but John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The sound they achieve together is flawless, a flowing resonance of the times in which this music was made but with a sense of timeless grace that holds up even fifty years later.
For a release with only eight songs on board, this set covers a lot of musical territory. Beginning with cool solo piano that is quickly resolved into a warm, comfortable, even sexy mix with Davis’ trumpet sliding soft in and around the keys, the first song sets the listener up for romance. The rest of the set blends seamlessly between this relaxed mood and livelier, swinging, groove sounds that wake the listener out of the trance with an invitation to dance.
In mid-century, the old genres had begun to meld together and then to break the mold and separate again into exciting new forms as distinct from one another as had been the old distinctions. This is as true of Jazz as of any other musical denomination. The old Jazz was giving way to the new Jazz. The music on this release shows the diversity and variations of this evolving music. Throughout can be heard smatterings of folk music and popular songs of the day, each enriching the sound of this Jazz. Among others can be heard allusions to “An English Country Garden” and the Blues standard “Corrina Corrina,” a touch of “Tweedlee Dee” and even a bit of Erroll Garner’s “Misty” threading through the improvisations.
As much as this is a Miles Davis recording, this release is an ensemble work featuring five equally stellar artists working in perfect synchronicity. There are moments of sweet communication among the instruments but there are also superb solo bits by each of these artists spread throughout the eight songs. And all of this only serves to complement the virtuoso trumpet work of Miles Davis. Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet would make an ideal addition to the collection of any jazz fan.
Of historical interest, this jewel-case insert includes both Jack Maher’s original liner notes from the 1956 release and new liner notes written by Joe Goldberg in 2006 plus a brief note from sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who made the masters for both releases. These notes give the reader an interesting historical and contemporary perspective on this artist and the music he created.
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