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Milestones: Miles Davis - Miles ahead of the rest...
on 19 March 2012
Recorded in 1958, nearly 10 years after Miles Davis laid down the foundations of his cool jazz style with the `Birth of the Cool' sessions, this is almost a masterpiece form the great man. Over the preceding years he had continued to evolve the style and build a group of musicians around his that really understood and could work with his musical vision. And for this recording it all started to gel beautifully into some really fine recordings.
The players were at this time a sextet, consisting of Miles (trumpet), Nat Adderly (alto sax), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (double bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums). Even the uninitiated will recognise some huge jazz figures in that list, especially saxophonists Adderly and Coltrane. The wealth of talent in these recordings is breathtaking!
Miles at this time was moving forward again, starting to explore a more modal approach to the music. Using simple melodies as the backbone, the band members go off into complex solos, bouncing off each other in an amazing demonstration of interplay and group dynamic. Anchored in the rhythm section of Chambers and Jones, some exhilarating pieces were the result. Miles' playing is at its lyrical, cool best, as he soars off into the blue yonder, literally miles ahead of the rest.
It's not all great. The best tracks are the relaxed tempo ones such as the superb rendering of Thelonious Monk's `Straight No Chaser', or `Milestones'. There are a couple of uptempo tracks which seem to unsettle the group, disturb the relaxed atmosphere, and feel a little forced as opposed to the very natural, organic feel of the truly great numbers.
This is a fine remastering of the album, with a sound that is clear and fresh on my stereo, and all the contributions of each musician come through with clarity. There are three bonus tracks, which are alternate takes of tracks already on the album. I'll admit that these do nothing much for me, they're not different enough to demonstrate the evolution of the music so there is nothing much of interest in them. It's a pity there were no left over tracks that didn't make it onto the original album.
All in all 4 stars. Even better was to come a year (and three albums) later, `Kind Of Blue'...