The Miles Davis album-by-album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by KevinP, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. KevinP

    KevinP Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Daejeon
    This was inevitable, huh?

    I don't think the pre-Columbia era will be served well by an album-by-album approach, especially given that his career pre-dates the album era, so let's do this:

    Phase 1: the Birth of the Cool sessions and Roost performances. Enough of us seem to have this that we can give it a dedicated discussion.

    Phase 2: all pre-Coltrane recordings, including his Bird apprenticeship, his Prestige albums, the Blue Note sides, and other odds and ends that have surfaced.

    Phase 3: the Prestige quintet sessions with Coltrane that make Workin', Relaxin', Steamin' and Cookin'. Since these were 'albumed' from just a couple sessions, we'll treat them as one.

    Phase4: The Columbia era, which will begin the actual album-by-album discourse. I won't start separate discussions for posthumous live albums (like the 1969 live outings with Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea on electric piano), so just discuss these along the way at the appropriate chronological point (in this case, with/after 'In a Silent Way').

    ===================================================

    So let's start, with the sides that later became known as Birth of the Cool. I really love jazz on 78s. There's a conciseness in solo construction that's absent in so much of today's jazz. The ability of the soloist to convey form--not the harmonic form of the piece but the form of the solo with a well-constructed beginning, middle and end--is dearly missed.

    I love the solos on 'Godchild,' especially the way Mulligan begins his solo by interacting with the ensemble.

    The scores of these tunes, made from the original parts and with the horn solos transcribed, is widely available in book form nowadays. A valuable resource!

    Any comments or thoughts on these sessions?
     
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  2. KevinP

    KevinP Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Daejeon
    Incidentally, I intend to see this thread though, but I do get busy with research and teaching and out-of-country trips from time to time, so if I get behind at some point and the discussion of the current album has run its course, I have no objection to someone else bumping it up by introducing the next album.
     
  3. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    Location:
    DC
    Im not sure I understand why we are starting with Birth of the Cool. This of course, was not an album initially. These were singles that were later collected in an album and someone came up with the great title: 'Birth of the cool'. Somehwhat similar to Armstrong hot 5 & 7, this group main purpose was to make those records, other than that, only a brief 2 week live engagement. Besides the band, credit must be given to Gil Evans, this is his first collaboration with Miles, and arguably, the best.

    My favorite tracks are Venus and Boplicity. The RVG is all I need. I know there is a complete version with air shots, but its my understanding that the studio cuts dont sound as good as the RVG.

    This is one of the first jazz albums I bought (after I got Kind of Blue) and it knocked my socks off. Still does, beautiful music. These are some of the greatest jazz sessions of all time.

    5/5
     
  4. Count me in.
     
  5. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Is there a consensus on just what the differences are between the original Capitol CD, the "complete" CD with bonus tracks and the RVG remaster? I still just have the first Capitol CD, but am tempted by both the bonus tracks on the complete and the allegedly better source on the RVG.

    And I still think it's a crying shame that the original 10" Prestige LPs never made it to CD in that form - those later period compilation packages just don't do it for me.
     
  6. Claus

    Claus Foodie

    Location:
    Germany
    great thread... I'm in
     
  7. mike g

    mike g Active Member

    Location:
    LI,NY
    I'm in.I will re-visit BOTC tonight
     
  8. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Oh my. This one is going to cost me. I only have 4 Miles Davis albums, accompanied by a deep, seething lust for more.

    Tim
     
  9. innercircle

    innercircle Forum Resident

    Location:
    Monterrey, Mexico
    This should be the largest album-by-album threads, I have to pay attention to it, I am a Miles fan since some time ago but I am a newby on him.

    Once someone said that Miles is the Picasso of the music, and I am tend to agree, his music is so colorful and varied, very talented person, we had no much like him.
     
  10. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    IIRC, Duke Ellington did.
     
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  11. KevinP

    KevinP Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Daejeon
    Because we've got to start somewhere. I didn't want to ignore his early sides just because they came out before the LP era.
     
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  12. Urban Spaceman

    Urban Spaceman Forum Resident

    I'm in too! I've been listening to a lot of Miles for the past couple years. I only recently picked up one of those 80's green-label Capitol LPs of "Birth of the Cool" which does me fine. The record was really mint and the price was right. In his "autobiography" Miles says something to the effect that the idea behind Birth of the Cool was to make some of the more radical ideas of Be-Bop more accessible - presumably by slowing down the tempo. Even if that was part of the intent, the results are still swinging enough. I'll also have to give this a spin again soon. Grrreeaat topic for a thread! :righton:
    -------- Chris
     
  13. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Well, the material was first issued as separate 10" 78s, but they were collected into an actual album (78s in a binder) not much later (does anyone know the year?). There were albums before 10" or 12" long-playing records.
     
  14. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    I don't know when the 78RPM album was released, but the 10" LP came out in 1954 (Capitol H-459), the 12" LP in 1956 (Capitol T-762).
     
  15. JackJD

    JackJD Well-Known Member

    Location:
    PA
    The Miles Davis album-by-album thread...

    Wow, this is going to be one LONG thread !
     
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  16. lschwart

    lschwart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Wow! This will be an interesting trip, I think!

    I hadn't listened to the "Birth" in a long time, but throwing it on tonight, I'm particularly struck by the two direct Gil Evans arrangements, especially "Moondreams," which is full of strange and rich sounds--so much of what Evans later did can be heard here!--and by Mulligan's arrangement of his "Venus De Milo," which has great clarity and space to my ears despite all its incident (some of the other tracks, as great as they are, sound a bit too busy to me--for example, Lewis' arrangements of "Move" and "Budo").

    And what a terrific solo Mulligan has on "Boplicity!" And listen to the way Konitz flutters through the bumpy ride of his section of "Israel!" Davis sounds great throughout, but a little constrained to fill up the slots he's given--compared at least to how much more freely he would work with space and silence later on.

    The set is certainly "cool" in the sense that it has an intellectual and self-consciously artful, rather than immediately expressive feel, but I had forgotten how sort of jumpy and edgy much of the playing is. There are very few moments where you can relax as you make your way through the 12 original sides. So much is happening all the time and there's no time to stop and take stock before there's something else to absorb. Hardly a laid-back listening experience!

    The only think I could do without is Kenny Hagood's vocal on "Darn that Dream." It's not bad for what it is, but it's more than a notch below the level of what the other players are bringing to the table.

    A lot of the playing on the live set is sometimes more fiery, but also cast in a more conventional idiom--there's more space for just blowing during the solos than in the more crowded studio arrangements. This makes it sound more relaxed, even when they get worked up (and even when the tempos are actually slightly faster). Listen, for example, to Davis' solos on the two live versions of "Move"--especially the first one, where he trades back and forth with Roach (and check out Konitz's solo on the second version of the two--the first never really comes into focus for him). The vocals are also lighter, more expansive, and much more successful, I think. All in all, however, it's on the studio cuts that the really striking originality happened. The live set is looser, but also laxer. Lots of great playing there, too though. Worth having this stuff, even if the sound's a little wonky.

    Thanks for starting this thread. Great to have an excuse to go back to this music and listen closely again!

    L.
     
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  17. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    This will be an entire spool of a thread, I think.:D

    I'm not yet very Miles knowledgeable, so I'll be soaking up what youse guys say here. I have Kind Of Blue (who doesn't?) and Workin', so I'll be looking for which other albums are essential. I've been watching the Ken Burns Jazz DVDs this week (the one featuring Miles just last night), so I'm primed...
     
  18. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    Location:
    DC

    You can start shopping here. 'Birth of the Cool' is definitely essential Miles, top shelf among many exceptional recordings.
     
  19. 93curr

    93curr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Plus, it's Lisa Simpson's favorite album! Can't get a better recommendation that that. :)
     
  20. 51nocaster

    51nocaster Well-Known Member

    This should be a great thread. I'll try to chime in when I can, but admittedly I don't know much from his electric period on.
     
  21. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    Seethe away.

    I'll be reading along, but I probably have less than 10 Miles albums, so I'm sure I'll be compelled to buy more (good consumer that I am) :shh:
     
  22. JA Fant

    JA Fant Forum Resident

    Experts,
    let it rip...
     
  23. mike g

    mike g Active Member

    Location:
    LI,NY
    First of all-- No tenor sax!

    What may have been the most dominant and popular instrument in jazz up until then was not present on these sessions. I wonder if it was intentional?

    "It was determined that a basic instrumentation of six horns and three rhythm-trumpet,trombone,French horn,tuba,alto and baritone saxophones,piano,bass,and drums-provided the fullest potential for expressing the range of tonal colors desired"
     
  24. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Wake up, Miles Davis Album-By-Album Thread!! :D

    I just found a used copy of Birth Of The Cool for $5 (Capitol Jazz CDP7 92862 2, dated 1989); is this considered a good version? (I've been hearing that Rudy Van Gelder's remasters are naff.) I certainly got my kicks listening to it tonight, driving home in the rain...
     
  25. KevinP

    KevinP Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Daejeon
    The rule of thumb is to avoid the Blue Note RVG series. The remasters he's done for other labels are sometimes quite highly praised, and while I don't have it myself, I've heard nothing but good things about his BotC.
     

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