Cookin' With The Miles Davis Quintet
1. My Funny Valentine (5:59)
Chappell & Co (ASCAP)
2. Blues By Five (9:59)
Prestige Music (BMI)
3. Airegin (4:24)
4. Tune Up/When Lights Are Low (13:08)
(Miles Davis) Prestige (BMI) / (Carter Williams) Colgems-EMI Music / Mills Music (ASCAP)
Miles Davis – Trumpet
John Coltrane – Tenor Saxophone
Red Garland – Piano
Paul Chambers – Bass
Philly Joe Jones – Drums
Supervision by Bob Weinstock
Recorded in Hackensack, NJ., October 26, 1956.
Recording engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Digital remastering, 1987 – Kirk Felton (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley)
Cover – Reid Miles
It is said that all good things corne to an end. One did in the spring of 1957 when the Miles Davis Quintet was dissolved. I say the Miles Davis Quintet because in their nearly two years together, Miles, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones achieved a particular kind of unity. They were not just the Miles Davis Quintet; to me, and many others, they were the group - the best small combo active in modem jazz.
Not only did they improve as a unit while they were together but each member benefitted individually from the association. Miles found an incentive to play again and reached new heights because of the musical environment he had created in choosing his sidemen. The sidemen, in turn, flowered in the climate of the Davis latitude. By the beginning of 1957, Coltrane had broken the shackles of self-doubt and breathed freely into his singing horn, Garland had recorded successfully as a trio pianist (A Garland of Bed, Prestige LP 7064) and the Chambers-Jones duo was fused into the most powerful of pulses.
The group attained a wonderful mood whether they were playing My Funny Valentine or a strenuous swinger like Airegin.
For sheer excitement on the up tempos, due more to a tensile undercurrent feeling rather than the mere speed, the Davis five was unsurpassed. I remember one night in the summer of 1956 at the Cafe Bohemia. I was in the throes of the hay fever miseries and nothing was helping very much. My nasal passages were completely sealed and I was gasping for breath. Along came Miles & Co. You may not know it but when you become stimulated and your adrenal glands go to work, it acts as a wonderful nasal decongestant. Well, after one set I was breathing freely. After two, I had forgotten that I ever had hay fever. That is the kind of excitement this group generated.
In mentioning the Bohemia, I am reminded that it was during one of his stays at that Greenwich Village jazz center that these recordings were taped. In the two studio sessions that were made in that period, Miles called tunes just as he would for any number of typical sets at a club like the Bohemia. There were no second takes. All in all, 24 extended performances were recorded. The rest will be heard in subsequent albums.
In essence, what you are hearing is a portion of the group's repetoire.
Some have been recorded before by Miles but with different personnel. This is similar to the way bands used to record. I do not refer to the calling of tunes as in a set but the idea of recording numbers that have been in the book for awhile, ones with which the musicians are completely at home. I'm sure this had a lot to do with the great string of records that Count Basie made for Decca in the Thirties and although a small group has less difficulty in "shedding" an arrangement, the benefits they reap from experience of playing a piece on the job for several months prior to recording it, are unmistakable.
There are two numbers which Miles has recorded before. Tune Up can be heard in Blue Haze (Prestige LP 7054) in the company of John Lewis, Percy Heath and Max Roach; Airegin in 10 inch LP 187 (soon to be re-issued on 12 inch) with Sonny Rollins (its composer), Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke.
My Funny Valentine is a premiere recorded performance for Miles and his original Blues By Five is also new to discs.
This album is called Cookin' at Miles' request. He said, "After all, that's what we did - came in and cooked."
A good thing may have come to an end but we have the recorded proof that it was really that good.
Notes by IRA GITLER