on 6 May 2013
I was put on to this album by a friend having previously enjoyed the three Prestige ablums that Miles Davis made with this group. This record was made at the same time and this presents the first album the trumpeter recorded with CBS.
I feel that the second Miles quintet always seemed to produce more music per square inch than any other jazz ensemble but the first "classic" quintet is justly celebrated too. A lot of mid-50's jazz can sound a bit dated these days and I find many players from this era to be a bit tame. This group is something else, however. This double CD is a bargain and whilst the live session on the second disc is very welcome (and of surprisingly good sound quality) it is the first six tracks which really stand out. As good as the rejected selections are, the "official" element of the double CD that represents the apogee of jazz at the time. Miles is beginning to establish his unique voice and John Coltrane puts down some remarkably confident tenor - as a rule I much prefer his mature work from the 60's yet his playing on this disc is excpetional. The major "plus" of this group is the rhythm section of Paul Chambers on bass and "Philly" Joe Jones on drums and they sound like the engine of a finely tuned sports car in the way they purr underneath the soloists. The final member of the team was pianist Red Garland, perhaps the most "conservative" musician to regularly be employed by Davis but a wonderful musician with an uncanny ability to swing and an exquisite sense of harmony. I very much enjoy his contribtions which are the icing on the cske as far as I am concerned.
I would suggest that this album is worth the money alone for the first six tracks. The live session and rejected takes show that Davis was still flirting with the Be-bop repertoire of ten years previous and I feel that CBS probably nailed it by selecting those tracks that marked this groups as streets ahead of their contemporaries. Tracks like "All of you" and "By, bye Blackbird" are as perfect as jazz could be at that time and this is one record I am really glad that I added to my collection. A good starting point too for any jazz fan who finds some of Davis' later efforts a bit too challanging.
on 15 December 2010
From Red Garland's opening piano chord, 'Round Midnight' unravels like a rain-slick stroll around the listener, taking them from the comfort of their own home to a damp, drizzly night in NYC; the power of that one chord, combined with Coltrane's sax & Davis' trumpet is nothing short of spellbinding, an evocation as powerful as anything John Dee ever mumbled over in Mortlake. So steeped in a specific time/place, this surely ranks as one of the greatest openings to any Jazz track ever recorded. The quintet's playing on Monk's standard is nothing short of mythical, the depth of tone achieved unsurpassed, a sense of total conviction pervades & informs the listener just exactly what the witching hour sounds like. Paul Chambers' bass thrumbs like a broken heart whilst Philly Joe Jones rolls around the kit with the frightful power of shadows across moonlit walls. As soon as Coltrane's solo begins however, the music forces the listener to take a deep breath, pushing them further into the night, into the spaces between lost lovers & the frailties of human expression. This is music carved from the hollow darkness of abandonment, weaving its profound spell over the listener no matter how many times heard, no matter how many years later. Quite simply, this IS the music of the spheres.
on 31 December 2000
I purchased this album earlier this week and am more than impressed with what I hear. This is Miles at his best, not only playing music from the Jazz repertoire, but also tackling popular songs that people wouldn't necessarily have down as Jazz at all, for instance Bye Bye Blackbird.
Although I wouldn't say Round About Midnight was my favourite Miles album, it is of an excellent standard and features fine solos from all musicians. It is not only an album worthy of any collection, but is particularly important to lovers of John Coltrane who will appreciate the difference between the saxophonist's playing on these tracks and later ones recorded with Miles' Band. Trane has not quite yet created a completely individual way of phrasing like that heard on Kind of Blue and Milestones, but shows more obviously the influences of Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon.
The leader himself is in superb form, displaying the characteristic tone with which most Jazz lovers are familiar. With his intimate sound quality, Miles remains one of the wonders of Jazz, and I believe that his playing could melt even the hardest of hearts, regardless of whether the listener was a Jazz-fan or not.
The reason why I give this four stars as opposed to five is because I would not say rush out and buy it before getting what I think is Miles best album "Kind of Blue". However if you already own the latter and like what you hear then get this one as well. You will not be dissapointed at all.
This marvellous 2-CD set features the first studio sessions that Miles Davis recorded for COLUMBIA between October 1955 & September 1956 plus a memorable performance from the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival and a live Gene Norman concert.
CD1, tracks 1-10 were recorded in New York City with Miles(trumpet); John Coltrane(tenor sax); Red Garland(piano); Paul Chambers(bass) & Philly Joe Jones(drums).
Miles is in brilliant form playing with a Harmon mute on impressive versions of ''Round Midnight', 'All of You' & 'Bye Bye Blackbird'. Coltrane's fiercely driving tenor sax provides a striking contrast and the superb rhythm section gives swinging support.
CD2, track 1 was recorded by Voice of America at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 17, 1955 and features a beautiful version of ''Round Midnight' with Miles and pianist Thelonious Monk in a stunning duet.
CD2, tracks 2-9 are from a Gene Norman concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium recorded on February 18, 1956 with the same band on CD1.
The music on these overlooked recordings still sounds fresh almost 60 years later and belongs in every Miles Davis collection.