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Music Review: Miles Davis – Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet

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The New Miles Davis Quintet was formed in 1955 and featured pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. In addition, Miles brought in a little known saxophone player named John Coltrane.

This was the first of the many legendary groups Miles would put together over the course of his unprecedented career. As such, their legacy is secure in the annals of Jazz.

Although their impact may not be remembered quite as heroically as some of his later combos, the six albums they recorded together are still mighty impressive. Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet was the first of their sessions to be released, and set the tone for all that were to follow.

The disc opens with a great take on Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me.” All five musicians shine here, especially Miles with his signature muted trumpet. The mature tone of John Coltrane is already in place with a superbly understated solo midway through the track. Red Garland is no slouch either, soloing with the confidence only a master can achieve.

“How Am I To Know” follows, and is notable for the gorgeous Miles trumpet opening. This is one of the Quiet Nights style songs that he would become so well known for in the following years, with good reason.

The remaining four songs are much more swinging, in the hard bop mode as the music came to be called. “How Am I To Know” jolts you out of your reverie with the most energetic Miles trills yet.

My favorite track is “S’posin,” kind of a bop standard, and one in which the whole band let fly. Coltrane and Garland again really shine on this song. “The Theme” was a set piece Miles had been using to close out his live appearances for a while, and continued using well into the 1960’s.

“Stablemates” is the final track, and an excellent closer. The medium tempo of this tune works perfectly for each member to show off their skills, and ends the disc on a high note.

The original engineer, Rudy Van Gelder recently re-mastered Miles, and what he was able to do with the original tapes is remarkable. The disc sounds state of the art.

There may have been more famous Miles Davis records released over the years, but Miles stands with the best of them. Not only for it’s significance, but because the music is simply top notch.

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