The detail to which Sony Music's Miles Davis reissue series lends itself is a pretty good example of how far ahead of his time the trumpeter/bandleader actually was. Packages such as this Legacy Edition of Round About Midnight suggest we are just beginning to catch up to the late jazz icon.
In a career brimming with profound changes, the period surrounding Miles Davis' classic Round About Midnight may contain more pivotal moments than any other. His signing to the mainstream Columbia label, in a gradual move away from the pure jazz niche of Prestige, carried significance far beyond the mere scope of business: it held the potential for the man with horn, and the jazz idiom itself, to make significant inroads to the cultural mainstream. Freed from the physical debilitation of heroin addiction further focused Davis to enact the demands of collecting and rehearsing a fairly permanent touring group eventually including, just midway through the '50s, John Coltrane. The saxophonist, in partnership with Miles and beyond, would go on to truly great accomplishments of his own.
In light of all this, it's somehow mystifying the first product of these changes, Round About Midnight, would take so long to get the royal treatment it deserves and receives in this handsome package. Like the other entries in the Miles reissues series, box sets and otherwise, this two-disc package receives a fitting attention to detail on every level. Extensive liner notes put the recordings in questions in the context of Davis' career past and future. Beautiful photos adorn the digipak as well as the booklet enclosed, which itself contains the original liner notes plus an essay from significant jazz writer Bob Blumenthal which only serves to broaden the historical perspective
Most important of all, the music receives a royal treatment. Whilte it's not clear if the original recording, remastered once before back in 2001 as part of The Complete Recordings of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, has been digitized yet again is less important than how it sounds to the ears: given the depth and clarity , it's hard to belive the tracks were recorded near half a century ago. The additional disc in this package contains, besides the legendary live take of the title song recorded live at Newport in 1955, an entire set by the quintet recorded in February of the next year; that combined with highly touted release of the studio album, the performance was the launching pad for this new phase in Miles' life and career.
It's not just the high level of precision and immaculate touch on display within this first great quintet of Miles, all of which resonates throughout the studio album. The heretofore unreleased recording of the 1956 Pasadena California concert demonstrates what a mammoth accomplishment was that recording and, in addition, the assembly of this bandColtrane, Philly Joe Jones Red Garland, Paul Chambersand the wealth of composing talent it brought together.
Hearing what have now become, even apart from Monk's title song, standards of jazz Bye Bye Blackbird, "Dear Old Stockholm and "Two Bass Hit played at a standard of excellence contemporary jazz still strives to emulate, gives a precious sense of history, all the more profound because of the stratospheric elevation of the influence of Miles Davisnot just on jazz, but contemporary music in generalthat proceeded from these recordings. For an audience expanding even now, the sound heard here is the definition of jazz itself.
Track Listing: Disc One: 1. 'Round Midnight; 2. Ah-Leu-Cha; 3. All Of You
4. Bye Bye Blackbird; 5. Tadd's Delight; 6. Dear Old Stockholm; 7. Two Bass Hit; 9. Budo;
10. Sweet Sue, Just You.
1. 'Round Midnight; 2. Introduction by Gene Norman; 3. Chance It (aka Max Is Making Wax)
4. Walkin'; 5. Gene Norman & Miles Davis; 6. It Never Entered My Mind; 7. Woody 'N You; 8.
Salt Peanuts; 9. The Theme.
Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: saxophone; Red
Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Philly Joe Jones: drums.