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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Miles's second phase?, 28 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. A. W. Powsey "red squirrell" (reading, uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
I find it hard to believe that there are no other reviews. This is definitely one of the best of his middle phase before he moved off to the fusion/rock. I bought this as a vinyl LP in the 60s when I was still at school. It did not have the bonus tracks that the current cd has. This is important because the very best track is "Summer night" I believe this was also issued on a later edition of "Quite Nights" It is gorgeous!.....up there with "Blue in Green" "My Funny Valentine". Miles himself knew he had produced a masterpiece. "Teo I'll do another one but I want to listen to that one!" says Miles at the end of that track.

St Louis Blues is played really slow and is exquisite. Miles was between groups it seems. We have the great Frank Butler/Tony Williams on drums and Herbie Hancock and Vic Feldman on piano. Vic wrote the title tune.

This is what jazz should be...an art form.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seven Steps to a minor classic collection of fine ballads from Miles' `transitional' period, 24 July 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
Following the departure of Jimmy Cobb, Trane, Julian Adderley and others in the early 1960s after the KoB period, `Seven Steps to Heaven' was recorded in LA and in NYC in 1963 and is often described as a `transitional album' for Miles. Others point out that everything Miles ever recorded was in some way `transitional', as he never let the grass grow under his feet and was always on his way to somewhere new.

What is certain is that `Seven Steps to Heaven' is one beautiful album full of cool, stretched-out ballads. It usually fails to make Miles' defining discography of `milestones' only because no new ground was broken, no definitive new style established. However the music is absolutely first class, ambient and repeat-listenable in the way of KoB and `In a Silent Way'.

The musicians:

* On tracks 2, 4 & 6 Herbie Hancock plays piano and Tony Williams is on drums (both destined to become members of Miles' great quintet in the mid-sixties)

* All remaining tracks feature Victor Feldman on keyboards and Frank Butler on drums

* George Coleman plays some fine sax

* Ron Carter plays bass on all tracks

All in all a great album and a fine, mellow mood-piece from the period preceding Miles' move towards jazz-fusion resulting in the great defining masterworks `In a Silent Way' and the seminal `Bitches Brew'.

It's good. If you like Miles Davis, and particularly the more mellow ballads, you'll love it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked - An Excellent First Seven Steps Into Miles' World, 16 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
This is without doubt one of Miles' most overlooked and under-appreciated albums.

Certainly it is his last truly straight-ahead 'jazz' (as most people know it) albums - and there really isn't any sign of what was to come - but it is, as the other reviewers have stated, an absolutely peerless, top quality collection of cool ballads and standards.

I find it hard to believe as I have read in other places that Miles was at a crossroads or transitional stage, my feeling this album is that he enjoyed himself, but knew where he was going next, so this was kind of the last cocktail party.

The players all work beautifully together, and Miles' muted horn is beyond compare.

If you were looking for a first step into Miles Davis, these 7 steps are a brilliant place to start. But be warned. If you LOVE this - if you go to his next album E.S.P., it is an altogether different beast totally. Better to go back to one of the other truly understated masterpieces like Someday My Prince Will Come or - of course - Kind Of Blue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seven Steps to a minor classic collection of fine ballads from Miles' `transitional' period, 22 July 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Seven Steps to Heaven (Audio CD)
Following the departure of Jimmy Cobb, Trane, Julian Adderley and others in the early 1960s after the KoB period, `Seven Steps to Heaven' was recorded in LA and in NYC in 1963 and is often described as a `transitional album' for Miles. Others point out that everything Miles ever recorded was in some way `transitional', as he never let the grass grow under his feet and was always on his way to somewhere new.

What is certain is that `Seven Steps to Heaven' is one beautiful album full of cool, stretched-out ballads. It usually fails to make Miles' defining discography of `milestones' only because no new ground was broken, no definitive new style established. However the music is absolutely first class, ambient and repeat-listenable in the way of KoB and `In a Silent Way'.

The musicians:

* On tracks 2, 4 & 6 Herbie Hancock plays piano and Tony Williams is on drums (both destined to become members of Miles' great quintet in the mid-sixties)

* All remaining tracks feature Victor Feldman on keyboards and Frank Butler on drums

* George Coleman plays some fine sax

* Ron Carter plays bass on all tracks

All in all a great album and a fine, mellow mood-piece from the period preceding Miles' move towards jazz-fusion resulting in the great defining masterworks `In a Silent Way' and the seminal `Bitches Brew'.

It's good. If you like Miles Davis, and particularly the more mellow ballads, you'll love it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Analogue Productions remaster is a 5-star sound, 2 May 2011
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This review is from: Seven Steps to Heaven (Audio CD)
This fine album was in bad need of an audiophile-quality remaster before Analogue Productions picked it up. Previous issues have always sounded too bright and harsh for me. The sound is MUCH better than ever, and is like the band are in the room with you. I was a little disappointed with the AP remaster of the previous Miles album "Someday My Prince Will Come," finding Miles's muted trumpet a little bright at times on my system (although still a massive improvement on other issues except maybe the MFSL remaster). Not so here though, everything sounds perfect.

It is worth noting that this is not merely a remaster, but a reMIX, being mastered directly from the original three-track session tapes. A three-channel mix is available on the disc for those with surround systems, placing Miles in the centre speaker.

The standard 16-bit CD layer sounds truly excellent and much improved too, so don't feel that you need an SACD player to benefit from this disc. In fact I listen to the 16-bit version more often as I have ripped it to play on my Squeezebox Touch, and can honestly say it sounds fantastic and not that much inferior to the SACD layer (when played through the Touch connected to a humble DACMagic).

A highly recommended disc. Tip: I got it much cheaper from Amazon's American site.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical and melancholy music from the Miles Davis Quartet/Quintet in 1963., 21 Jun 2014
By 
Jazzrook (Purbrook , Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
This excellent quartet/quintet album comprises two different sessions recorded in 1963 in Los Angeles & New York.
Tracks 2, 4 & 6 were recorded in New York on May 14, 1963 with trumpeter/bandleader Miles Davis(1926-1991); the underrated tenor saxophonist George Coleman(b. 1935); pianist Herbie Hancock(b. 1940); bassist Ron Carter(b. 1937) & the 17-year old drummer Tony Williams(1945-1997) who "lit a big fire under everyone in the group" according to Miles in his autobiography.
The remaining five tracks were recorded a month earlier in Los Angeles on April 16/17, 1963 with Miles(trumpet); Victor Feldman(piano); Ron Carter(bass) & Frank Butler(drums). George Coleman is added on 'So Near, So Far'.
Miles is on superb form throughout and highlights include 'Joshua' and the title-track from the New York session and a 10-minute quartet version of 'Basin Street Blues' from Los Angeles.
This expanded edition of 'Seven Steps To Heaven' is a fascinating transitional album and the lyrical, melancholy music deserves a place in any Miles Davis collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Miles In Transition, 17 April 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
This 1963 album release was very much a case of Miles Davis in transition – 'between bands’, the man had recently lost major collaborator John Coltrane to a solo career and had suffered periods of inactivity due to health problems – and, whilst Seven Steps To Heaven does have its moments, I think Davis’ uncertainty (perhaps) is discernible here. Indeed, Davis was himself unhappy with the versions of the mid and up-tempo numbers originally recorded in LA and re-recorded them in New York with a different band line-up.

For the LA recordings Miles had George Coleman on tenor sax, recently recruited bassist Ron Carter, Brit Victor Feldman on piano and Frank Butler on drums (with the latter two being replaced in New York by Herbie Hancock’s piano and 17-year old prodigy Tony Williams on drums – both would, of course, become permanent members, alongside Carter, of Davis’ imminent new quintet). And, for me certainly, whilst the album’s ballads do have their moments, it is on the more up-tempo tunes where the band sound most assured. On each of So Near, So Far, and (in particular) Feldman’s two compositions here, the album’s title tune (with its Milestones-like opening) and Joshua, the driving rhythm of Carter and Williams is impressive (even at this early stage) and Coleman puts in a solid performance (although being 'sandwiched’ between other Davis collaborators (and two jazz greats) – Messrs. Coltrane and Shorter – inevitably sounds rather more 'conventional’).

Ballad-wise, I find the 10-minute opening blues, Spencer Williams’ Basin Street Blues, whilst featuring some nicely restrained 'mute playing’ by Miles, a little underwhelming (and directionless). Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne’s I Fall In Love Too Easily is certainly more engaging (Davis’ playing is outstanding), but my two favourite ballads here are the beautiful versions of Charles Warfield’s (swinging) Baby Won’t You Please Come Home and (even more mesmerising) Harry Warren’s Summer Night. This latter tune, included as an extra track on the 2005 CD release, was originally included on the Davis – Gil Evans collaboration Quiet Nights and is reminiscent (for me, at least) of Kind Of Blue’s Blue In Green (and you don’t get a higher recommendation than that).

An album that doesn’t quite have the fully-fledged feel (and exuberance) of the later (full quintet) albums ESP or Miles Smiles, but still has a good deal to commend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 12 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
Miles' previous small group album (Someday My Prince Will Come) is one of my favourites amongst his albums, particularly as the most recent issue includes the bonus Blues #2 plus an alternate take of the title track. Two years later on Seven Steps he was rebuilding his career and attempting to form a new quintet: the result is that Seven Steps is very much a mixed bag, recorded with two different rhythm sections.

Miles himself played superbly on the standards, although I'm less enamoured by Victor Feldman who sounds like a late night lounge pianist on Basin Street Blues. The original compositions are unexceptional - the title track is only redeemed by Tony Williams' excellent drumming: Joshua sounds like a work in progress when compared with the same quintet's live recording in Europe a few month's later. Recorded sound is excellent from both the New York and Los Angeles sessions.

If you're a Miles' completist you'll want it, if not there's many better recordings in his discography (from the early 60s I'd recommend Someday My Prince Will Come, In Europe, and My Funny Valentine).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious, 10 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Seven Steps to Heaven (Audio CD)
With recording split between east and west coasts of the USA and with two different lines ups this album's genesis would seem troubled on the face of it, right? Not a bit of it, tracks recorded in New York and Los Angeles are alternated and make a seamless whole. The title track deserves special mention as up there with Miles' best work. This is a tremendous album to relax to, the music washes over you. I resisted buying this early, concentrating on Miles' 1950's output - don't make that mistake, get this quickly. One of The Man's best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MOST UNDERRATED MILES ALBUM, 30 May 2013
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This review is from: Seven Steps To Heaven (Audio CD)
Not saying that "Seven Steps To Heaven" is not considered a good album by the powers that be but it is generally regarded as just good. I would say that it is his most underrated album ever and should really be put alongside the best. I am biased as I have always favoured Miles ballads but this is just out of this world. A real emotional , thought provoking , little gem of an album. Love it!!
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