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The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions

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Album Review

What you get on Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions is a rather unwieldy four-disc box set (in a longbox; remember those?) containing the complete recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, John Coltrane, and Philly Joe Jones recorded for Prestige, and remastered and repackaged according to chronology rather than release dates from the albums Miles, Workin', Relaxin', Steamin', Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, and Cookin'. The fourth disc contains radio and television appearances which have never been released before. The first four tracks are from the Tonight Show in 1955, with Steve Allen as he gives two different spoken intros that are fine to hear once, but a drag after that (and one wonders what Miles must have thought of them), and result in two quintet performances, "Max Is Making Wax (Chance It)" by Oscar Pettiford and the standard "It Never Entered My Mind." The six cuts are from different live shows from radio broadcasts of live gigs at the Blue Note in Philadelphia in 1956 and the Café Bohemia in New York in 1958. There are two performances of "Walkin," one each of "Four," "Bye Bye Blackbird," and Dizzy Gillespie's "Two Bass Hit." In addition, the second portion of disc four is enhanced and contains Miles solo transcriptions that are suitable for printing, two of "Tune Up" (the original version and the one from the Blue Note gig), and "Four" (both the original studio version and one from Café Bohemia). There is also a transcription of the solo played during "Max Is Making Wax (Chance It)" from the Tonight Show. There is a longbox booklet with a solid essay by Bob Blumenthal and it's full of groovy black-and-white photos. Miles freaks — and trumpet players, perhaps — will have to have this, one supposes. But as real bonus material designed to get you to buy the original recordings over again, or unless you're an an audiophile, it's rather difficult to discern the upgraded quality of sound, and seems rather pointless. The high marks are for the music, not the box set itself.


Born: 26 May 1926 in Alton, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the...
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