Six-Disc Miles Davis Reissue Marks Prestige Anniversary

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To mark the 70th anniversary of Prestige Records, a set of Miles Davis’ quintet recordings spanning 1955 and 1956 has been released on LP, replete with a bonus disc of live performances.

(Photo: Esmond Edwards/Prestige)

Come for the 180-gram vinyl, stay for the recording of Steve Allen presenting Miles Davis with a DownBeat award.

In celebration of the Prestige label’s 70th anniversary, Craft Recordings is reissuing Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet, Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’ and Steamin’ in a single package. Though the original LPs were released between 1956 and 1961—a time when jazz was amid a significant self-reckoning—the music on The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions all was recorded between November 1955 and October 1956.

“Every note has a precise musical meaning,” Allen says as he introduces the ensemble on a disc of bonus material.

Resequenced in chronological order, the six-disc set captures Davis’ first great quintet—tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones—swinging through standards. “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “My Funny Valentine” sit alongside Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” and Benny Golson’s “Stablemates.” But there’s also a frantic appraisal of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts” and a handful of Davis originals, like the gutsy “Half Nelson.”

“Davis understood the potential of the new, longer 12-inch album format, and used it to create definitive performances in a variety of moods,” historian Bob Blumenthal writes in the liner notes. “The key was contrast, which began with the juxtaposition of Davis’ concision, Coltrane’s complexity, and Garland’s sparkle; extended to the textural variety the rhythm section provided each soloist; and was capped by the distinctive range of the band’s repertoire.”

The bonus disc collects eight performances from Café Bohemia, the Blue Note in Philadelphia and a spot on Tonight Starring Steve Allen, when the host presents Davis with an award from DownBeat. (Davis topped the Trumpet category in the 1955 DownBeat Readers Poll; he and Dizzy Gillespie were co-winners of that category in the 1955 DownBeat Critics Poll.)

Issued as a CD collection in 2006, this new vinyl pressing of The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions was released Dec. 6. For additional information about the set, visit the Craft website. DB




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May 2020
Antonio Sánchez & Thana Alexa
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