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The Albums of Miles Davis

The Albums of Miles Davis

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Published by Michael Erlewine
A brief biography of Miles Davis and an album guide by Michael Erlewine, founder of the All-Music Guide and author of the book “Blues in Black & White: The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals.”
A brief biography of Miles Davis and an album guide by Michael Erlewine, founder of the All-Music Guide and author of the book “Blues in Black & White: The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals.”

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Published by: Michael Erlewine on Jan 07, 2011
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06/05/2011

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The Albums of Miles Davis
 
The Albums of Miles Davis
KEY ALBUM: “Kind of Blue”
 
By Michael ErlewineMiles Davis reinvented himself on aregular basis and thus has many distinctperiods, each of which he excelled in.Here are some highlights of his moretraditional and easy-to-listen-to albums:
One early album to be aware of is “Birthof the Cool” (1949), a collection of 12
pieces performed by the Miles Davisnonet, with arrangements by Gil Evans.This modified bop is a precursor to theWest Coast style of cool jazz, althoughperhaps a bit too up tempo. The very
best of the early “cool” and slow
-tempo/bluesy Miles Davis (includingsome of the nonet) has been released
on the Blue Note album, “Ballads andBlues”. This
is a great compilation,
precursor to the classic “Kind of Blue”
album.Next comes the Prestige recordings,some 93 of them which are in the 8-disc
set “Miles Davis: Chronicle
-- theComplete Prestige Recordings (1951-
1956)”. A great set, but too expensiv
efor most. However, you should try to get
“Bag’s Groove” (1954), Davis with Milt
Jackson and Thelonious Monk. Monkplaying is incredible on the two takes ofthe title tune. Another great album from
this time period is “Round aboutMidnight” (1955), with t
he Miles DavisQuintet with Red Garland on Piano andJohn Coltrane on sax. Here again is theluxurious slow blues-like material that
reminds one of “Kind of Blue”.
 The four Prestige albums with the firstMiles Davis Quintet that every Davis fan
owns are “Cookin’” (1955), “Workin’”(1956), “Steamin’” (1956), and “Relaxin’”
(1956). The beauty here is superb Davishorn playing set off against the hotyoung John Coltrane on sax in theprocess of finding his own stride. A little
later album, “Milestones” (1958)
with theMiles Davis Sextet has John Coltraneand alto sax player Cannoball Adderley-- another classic. One of the last reallyfine sessions with the original Miles
Davis Quintet is “Live in Stockholm1960”, recorded just before Coltrane left
to form his own group.Those who appreciate the arrangedsound that Gil Evans brings to the Davis
groups will want to check out “MilesAhead” (1957), “Porgy & Bess” (1958),and “Sketches of Spain” (1959).
 
The lovely modal sound of “Kind of Blue” makes it the key alb
um for MilesDavis and probably the single mostrecommended album in jazz. Davis withJohn Coltrane and Cannonball Adderlyon sax, plus Bill Evans on piano.
Miles Davis’ second classic quintet with
Wayne Shorter (sax), Herbie Hancock(p), Ron Carter (b), and Tony Williams(d) recorded a number of fine albums
including “Sorceror” (1962), “Live at thePlugged Nichol” (1965), and “MilesSmiles” (1966). “Four & More” (1964)
with George Coleman on sax and therest of the group as given above is alsoexcellent. Typically we find the quintetplaying some of the classic Davis tunesbut at greatly increased tempos.Another good album from this general
period is “Seven Steps to Heaven”
(1963)We begin to see signs of early fusion
with “Filles de Kilimanjaro” (1968),
said
to be Davis’ last jazz album. “In a SilentWay” (1969) marks the real beginning of 
his fusion period. It includes WayneShorter on sax, Chick Corea, andHerbie Hancock on keyboards, Dave

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