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'Round About Midnight

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The year 1955 was significant for Miles Davis. His memorable performance at that year's Newport Jazz Festival heralded his return to form. He also formed his legendary first quintet,with John Coltrane (tenor), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums), one of the great working bands in jazz annals. Davis's star was in ascendance, so his celebrated contract with giant Columbia, catalyzed by his Newport performance, came as no surprise, a coup for both artist and label. However, Davis had already signed to the independent Prestige label, and the quintet would record a series of five acclaimed albums for the smaller outfit. While fulfilling his obligation to Prestige, Davis and company also waxed a pair of sessions for Columbia - one in October of 1955, the other in June of '56 - the glorious results of which emerged in 1957 on Round About Midnight, his renowned label debut. It was Davis's smoky, muted take on Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" that so delighted the Newport crowd in '55, and the stunning studio version found here is worthy of a time capsule. The luminous "Bye Bye Blackbird" displays the band's deft touch with midtempo ballads- their signature - while Charlie Parker's "Ah-Leu-Cha" returns them to burning bop territory.

Customer Reviews

Early Miles Quintet

Amazing how different this album is from "Blue Moods" released in 1955. This one has a distinct be-bop feel where the earlier album was mostly cool. I read that Miles kicked heroin before the 1956 recording session for this album, so there is no excuse for any thin tone or note splattering on those tunes. It might seem sacrilegious to some for me to point out deficiencies with John Coltrane, but here he often tries to cram as many notes as possible into his solos, to the detriment of the sound. And he often strays outside the chord structure, as Davis does some. It is not close enough for jazz, as they say, if it sounds bad! Paul Chambers, Red Garland and Joe Jones were a solid rhythm section. This is one of those albums considered as a must have, but don't make this your only Miles Davis album. I enjoy it very much but have many of his albums.


Born: May 26, 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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