This excellent compilation includes some spectacular Miles Davis rarities, all recorded during 1951-52...
Massive electric Miles from the same Japanese tour that gave the world the Panagaea and Agharta albums – tracks that were recorded ten days before the concert that appeared on those records, with different songs as well! The music is a dark brew of funk, fusion, and some surprisingly spiritual currents – thanks to wonderful work from Sonny Fortune on alto, soprano sax, and flute – working here alongside guitarist Pete Cosey, who provides plenty of the fuzzier, freakier moments of the set – as does keyboardist Reggie Lucas! Al Foster's drumming is wonderful – and Michael Henderson's bass will blow you away if you only know his later smoother soul albums – but as usual, Miles is the star once he opens up his horn and steps into the darkness.
This CD compilation presents, on 8 discs, 17 recording sessions made between 1951 and late 1956 by the extraordinary trumpeter, leader, composer, and perpetual catalyst–Miles Davis. Featured in this collection are such major artists as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, and the original Davis Quintet: John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. The expanse of Miles Davis's recordings for Prestige Records, the California analogue to New York's Blue Note, is huge. In terms of artistic development, the eight CDs in this box span Davis's development from tentative searching through the full bloom of his first great quintet, whose frontline boasted Davis and a young John Coltrane.
With their second album, Miles Smiles, the second Miles Davis Quintet really began to hit their stride, delving deeper into the more adventurous, exploratory side of their signature sound. This is clear as soon as "Orbits" comes crashing out the gate, but it's not just the fast, manic material that has an edge – slower, quieter numbers are mercurial, not just in how they shift melodies and chords, but how the voicing and phrasing never settles into a comfortable groove. This is music that demands attention, never taking predictable paths or easy choices.
Miles Davis' concert of February 12, 1964, was originally divided into two LPs, with all of the ballads put on My Funny Valentine. These five lengthy tracks (which include "All of You," "Stella by Starlight," "All Blues," "I Thought About You," and the title cut) put the emphasis on the lyricism of Davis, along with some strong statements from tenor saxophonist George Coleman and freer moments from the young rhythm section of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams.