Miles Davis dared to be different. Staying true to his lifelong pugilistic passion/inspiration, he shook the jazz world many times throughout his career. To many he is remembered as the Prince Of Darkness, the raspy-voiced and hip-ly dressed maverick that poured out cool licks from his Harmon-muted red trumpet. But, above and beyond his larger-than-life persona and reported irreverence of his later years, Miles Davis remains a rare master of musical form as well as a forward-thinking iconic leader.
Recorded three years before his landmark album Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959), Cookin' was part of Davis' remaining five-album commitment to Prestige, recorded a year to the day after Georges Avakian lured him to Columbia in October, 1955. Here, the four tracks have been remastered by Rudy Van Gelder, the session's original engineer.
As with all of Davis' groups, the sidemen's contrasting styles keep each outing interesting and exciting. "My Funny Valentine and "When Lights Are Low exemplify the players' distinct personalities: Red Garland's bouyant bop lines and light-touch lyricism complementing John Coltrane's urging cry. The trumpeter's classic laid-back phrasing, especially on slower tempos, testifies to his appropriation of any melody he played, his own or others.
The unit, supported by the epitome of the bop rhythm section in bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, swings unflaggingly. The latter's driving snare and ride work on "Tune Up, the album's full-tilt high speed chase, ignite fire under the soloists, redeeming himself, so to speak, from a previous track's false start.
Although one can wonder about the camouflaged splice at the end of one of Coltrane's choruses on "When The Lights Are Low, the saxophonist's intense and soul-searching lines exceedingly supplant this technical imperfection. In fact, the session's spontaneous and authentic qualities are exactly where lays a good portion of the RVG remasters' charm.
Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums.