Craft Recordings is continuing its Small Batch audiophile series with a 180-gram vinyl reissue of 1958's Prestige release Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, recorded in 1956 by the legendary trumpeter with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The release - which becomes available tomorrow, Friday, April 15 at 2:00 pm PST / 5:00 pm EST through CraftRecordings.com - is limited to 5,000 copies worldwide. It follows prior Small Batch releases of John Coltrane's Lush Life and Yusuf Lateef's Eastern Sounds, both of which sold out almost immediately.
Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet was derived from two sessions in May and October 1956 in acclaimed engineer Rudy Van Gelder's Hackensack, New Jersey studio. (Davis' entire Prestige output, 32 tracks recorded over these two sessions and one more, was issued on six albums between 1956 and 1961.) A classic of bop, Relaxin' features the leader and his group tackling a number of classic Broadway and Hollywood standards from songwriters including Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls' "If I Were a Bell"), Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (Pal Joey's "I Could Write a Book"), Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke ("It Could Happen to You," from the film And the Angels Sing), and Harry Warren, Mort Dixon, and Joe Young's "You're My Everything" (from the Ed Wynn-headlined revue The Laugh Parade). The album was rounded out with vibrant renditions of jazz standards from Dizzy Gillespie ("Woody 'n' You") and Sonny Rollins ("Oleo"). By the time of its release on Prestige, Davis had already begun his landmark run of albums on the Columbia label, but the Prestige material quickly assumed a venerated place within his discography.
While Relaxin' has been issued numerous times in the past on vinyl, CD, and SACD, Craft's Small Batch reissue aims to present it in the best sound yet. It's been mastered from the original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech's VR900 compound and a one-step lacquer process--instead of the standard three-step process--which Craft states "[allows] for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording."
Each pressing of Relaxin' is individually numbered and housed within a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase boasting an acrylic inset of the original artwork. The vinyl LP itself, stored within a tip-on jacket and protected by an anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve, is extractable via a frictionless ribbon pull tab. The deluxe package also features new liner notes by jazz historian Ashley Kahn. He writes, in part, "The sidemen [Davis] had chosen emphasized rhythmic dexterity and strong, individual styles that sometimes complemented and--to some ears--seemed discordant and contradictory. The lineup was a study in contrast--Miles' languid, sparse phrasing next to Coltrane's explosive, hard-edged verbosity, Garland's sophisticated voicings and Chamber's penchant for arco solos, alongside Jones' rootsy rhythmic propulsion. When melodic lines were smartly shared or handed off between different players, disparate ideas would suddenly lock in together...It was about delicacy and muscle. It was about drops and shifts and surprises. Often the group reimagined song structures more as sectional exercises, one feel or groove morphing into another."
The hard-bop treatment by Davis' First Great Quintet of these ballad standards set a high-water mark for the genre. Craft's Small Batch reexamination opens for pre-orders tomorrow, Friday, April 15 at 2:00 pm PST / 5:00 pm EST through CraftRecordings.com. You'll find the track listing below. Get more details on the Small Batch series here.
Miles Davis, Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige 7129, 1958 - reissued Craft Recordings, 2022)
- If I Were a Bell
- You're My Everything
- I Could Write a Book
- It Could Happen to You
- Woody'n You