Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings are getting Miles Ahead with a new box set due on November 12. Miles Davis’ The Original Mono Recordings is a definitive portrait – in crisp monaural sound – of the legendary trumpeter’s earliest, era-defining period at Columbia Records. Its nine albums, recorded between 1956 and 1961 (and released between 1957 and 1964), include some of the greatest landmarks in recorded jazz as well as a couple of lost treasures:
- ‘Round About Midnight (1957)
- Miles Ahead (1957)
- Milestones (1958)
- Jazz Track (1959)
- Porgy and Bess (1959)
- Kind of Blue (1959)
- Sketches of Spain (1960)
- Someday My Prince Will Come (1961)
- Miles & Monk at Newport (1964)
While the other seven titles have been a mainstay of the Miles Davis catalogue, both the long out-of-print Jazz Track and Miles & Monk at Newport are making their first appearances in any domestic Davis CD collection.
In addition, to mark Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday event on November 29, Columbia/Legacy will issue mono vinyl editions of Kind Of Blue, Miles & Monk At Newport, and Jazz Track, following the previously released ‘Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, Milestones, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, and Someday My Prince Will Come.
After the jump: more details on Miles Davis’ The Original Mono Recordings including a full track listing with discography, and pre-order links!
1956’s ‘Round About Midnight, Davis’ label debut, showcases the artist at the epoch of his hard bop period. His Quintet includes John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Philly Joe Jones on drums and Paul Chambers on bass. Davis’ muted horn makes magic on Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” which remained in his book for years, and breathes new life into “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Miles Ahead (1957), credited to Miles Davis + 19, introduced the orchestral settings of Gil Evans into Davis’ recorded repertoire. Playing the flugelhorn, Davis and the inventive, classically-inspired Evans tackled a truly eclectic line-up of material from 19th century classical composers (Léo Delibes), modern masters (Kurt Weill), and jazz contemporaries (Dave Brubeck, Bobby Troup, Ahmad Jamal) as well as compositions by Evans and Davis themselves. A jazz-classical fusion in the “Third Stream” style arranged by Evans as continuous suite of music, Miles Ahead synthesized disparate styles into a remarkable whole.
For 1958’s Milestones, Davis returned to his Quintet members and foreshadowed the modal jazz breakthrough of the following year’s Kind of Blue with his title track as well as Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser.” The sextet recording adds Cannonball Adderley to the lineup on alto saxophone. Milestones marked the final time Jones, Garland and Chambers would play on a Davis album. Davis and Gil Evans reteamed for 1959’s Porgy and Bess, considered by many to be their greatest collaboration. The swinging, soaring, musical comedy-meets-opera melodies of George Gershwin – originally with lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin - proved ideally suited to the orchestral jazz treatment bestowed upon them. Adderley, Chambers, Jones and Cobb all contributed to this radical transformation of the folk opera.
Kind of Blue followed later in 1959, and it may well remain the quintessential jazz record of all time. It’s accessible to even the most casual listener, yet is also the groundbreaking apotheosis of modal jazz, i.e. the solos build from the key, not (as is traditional) from chord changes only. Davis was joined by an all-star cast of Bill Evans (piano), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Paul Chambers (double bass), and Wynton Kelly (piano on “Freddie Freeloader”). So attuned was this group that no rehearsals were held for the LP; Davis simply laid out the themes, and once recording began, the group intuitively improvised to each other’s strengths. A one-of-a-kind classic, crossing traditional genre lines in its effect on musicians from rock to classical, was born.
The Original Mono Recordings follows with 1960’s Sketches of Spain, the third Gil Evans collaboration in the box set. Inspired by the Spanish folk tradition, it featured Davis on trumpet and flugelhorn, leading the orchestra in compositions written by the likes of Joaquín Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla. A Grammy winner for Best Original Jazz Composition, Sketches of Spain is one of Davis’ most haunting yet accessible albums, a work of enormous beauty. 1961’s Someday My Prince Will Come returned Davis to the small-group format with Davis originals (tributes to producer Teo Macero, Columbia President Goddard Lieberson and wife Frances) and standards including the reworked title tune from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Though credited to the Miles Davis Sextet, only “Someday” featured all six players – Davis, Chambers, Hank Mobley and John Coltrane on tenor sax, Wynton Kelly on piano, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. Coltrane made a cameo on tenor on “Teo” (dedicated to producer Macero) with Mobley playing the instrument on the album’s other songs.
The box set doesn’t continue to include 1964’s controversial Evans-arranged Quiet Nights, nor Davis’ remaining Columbia mono LPs. But it does, surprisingly, make the welcome inclusions of Jazz Track and Miles & Monk at Newport. The former showcases ten improvised tracks that Miles recorded in Paris with European musicians in 1957, for Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator To the Gallows), combined with three tracks by Miles’ sextet in New York (Davis, Coltrane, Adderley, Bill Evans, Chambers, and Cobb) from their only other studio recordings of 1958, prior to the Kind Of Blue sessions. The latter album, first released in 1964, features four selections recorded live by the Miles Davis Sextet at the renowned Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, followed by two more recorded at the Festival in 1963 by the great Thelonious Monk Quartet.
These LPs remain among Davis’ finest accomplishments, and The Original Mono Recordings affords the chance to experience them as originally heard. The mini-LP replicas will be housed in a slipcase similar to Bob Dylan's The Original Mono Recordings box released in 2012. The new set contains a fully-annotated 40-page booklet with complete discography including personnel and production details, plus a 2,000-word essay by Marc Myers. Mark Wilder has remastered all titles for the box set helmed by longtime Davis reissue producer Steve Berkowitz.
Miles Davis’ The Original Mono Recordings arrives on November 12 from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings and can be pre-ordered below!
Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy 88883 75664-2, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Disc 1: 'Round About Midnight (Columbia CL 949, 1957)
- ’Round Midnight
- All of You
- Bye Bye Blackbird
- Tadd’s Delight
- Dear Old Stockholm
Disc 2: Miles Ahead (Columbia CL 1041, 1957)
- The Maids of Cadiz
- The Duke
- My Ship
- Miles Ahead
- Blues for Pablo
- New Rhumba
- The Meaning of the Blues
- I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone But You)
Disc 3: Milestones (Columbia CL 1193, 1958)
- Dr. Jekyll
- Sid’s Ahead
- Two Bass Hit
- Billy Boy
- Straight, No Chaser
Disc 4: Jazz Track (Columbia CL 1268, 1959)
- L’assassinat de Carala
- Sur l’autoroute
- Julien dans l’ascenseur
- Florence sur les Champs-Elysées
- Dîner au motel
- Evasion de Julien
- Visite du vigile
- Au bar du Petit-Bac
- Chez le photographe du motel
- On Green Dolphin Street
- Stella By Starlight
Disc 5: Porgy & Bess (Columbia CL 1274, 1959)
- The Buzzard Song
- Bess You is My Woman Now
- Gone, Gone, Gone
- Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess
- Prayer (Oh, Doctor Jesus)
- Fishermen, Strawberry and Devil Crab
- My Man’s Gone Now
- It Ain’t Necessarily So
- Here Come de Honey Man
- I Loves You, Porgy
- There’s a Boat That’s Leaving Soon for New York
Disc 6: Kind of Blue (Columbia CL 1355, 1959)
- So What
- Freddie Freeloader
- Blue in Green
- All Blues
- Flamenco Sketches
Disc 7: Sketches of Spain (Columbia CL 1480, 1960)
- Concierto de Aranjuez
- Will o’ the Wisp
- The Pan Piper
Disc 8: Someday My Prince Will Come (Columbia CL 1656, 1961)
- Someday My Prince Will Come
- Old Folks
- I Thought About You
Disc 9: Miles and Monk At Newport (Columbia CL 2158, 1964)
- Straight, No Chaser
- Two Bass Hit
- Blue Monk
Tracks 1-4 recorded live by The Miles Davis Sextet - 7/4/1958
Tracks 5-6 recorded live by The Thelonious Monk Quartet - 7/4/1963
I figured they were gearing up for something with all those RSD releases. Sounds like a cool release!
Jason Michael says
I have wanted this since it was hinted to being released in 2012. I was hoping it would include all of Miles' mono material for Columbia, but sadly this omits the last few titles. I would love to have Miles Smiles and E.S.P. in mono. The title of the box doesn't leave much chance of there being a followup collection of the remaining mono albums. Nonetheless I really look forward to hearing Kind of Blue in mono, and I've wanted a copy of Jazz Track for years. All the vinyl I've found of this title is really beat up. (Of course, I have all the music from Jazz Track multiple times, but not as the Jazz Track album, and i don't think I have to justify my compulsion to own it that way to most people on this site!) This is an automatic purchase for me.
If they are not issuing all of the original mono mixes in one box, it seems that they might have done several "thematic" boxes, i.e., the quintet, the Gil Evans arrangements, the live, etc.
mark schlesinger says
mono vinyl reissues....and no bonus cuts...shows some folks will buy ANYTHING.
Really looking forward to this release; but can someone tell me WHY some art department yahoo used a STEREO LOGO on the cover? Those arrows pointing out both ways from the word "MONO" on the cover were (obviously, you'd think) a symbol for STEREO back in the day. As in, two different channels, going two different directions! I can almost (but not quite) understand a graphic designer, but non-music-person, making the mistake - though you'd think a record company would hire graphic designers who WERE music people - but for no one in quality control all the way down the pipeline to notice boggles the mind. A minor issue, I know, but still: ridiculous.