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Miles Davis Quintet: 2nd Session 1956 Revisited

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Miles Davis Quintet: 2nd Session 1956 Revisited
Rough round the edges some of the performances might be, but that is part of their real-time, first-take charm. The twelve tracks collected on 2nd Session 1956 Revisited are, nonetheless, arguably the most perfect Miles Davis ever recorded. Over the years they have been issued and reissued, anthologised and repackaged, almost as often as Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. But never with as much attention to sonic detail as on this album, remastered by the ezz-thetics label's Michael Brändli. The dream-team combination of Rudy Van Gelder's original recordings with Brändli's ears and state-of-the-art tech means that 74:28 minutes of Christmas 2022 have come early.

In 1956, in the process of moving from Prestige to Columbia, Davis fulfilled his remaining contractual obligations to Prestige by undertaking two epic recording sessions with his quintet with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. The material was then shuffled up and drip fed on to the market between 1957 and 1961 on the albums Cookin', Relaxin', Workin' and Steamin', except for one track, Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," included here, which debuted on Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants (1958). As the title suggests, 2nd Session 1956 Revisited comes from Davis' second marathon session, in October.

Along with the audio quality, 2nd Session 1956 Revisited is valuable for presenting the twelve tracks in the order in which they were recorded that autumn day. Davis conducted the session as he would have approached a club performance, and, omitted tracks and breakdowns aside, we are hearing the music as it happened in the studio, before it was divided up and resequenced for the aforementioned Prestige albums. As a result, even Davis aficonados who are on intimate terms with those albums may gain new insights into the music.

While on the subject of resurrected real-time performances, a heads up for anyone who may have missed Lee Morgan's The Complete Live At The Lighthouse (Blue Note) in 2021. The 8 x CD box presents, in order of performance, every set from the last three nights of the Morgan quintet's engagement at the Hermosa Beach club in July 1970, sonically restored and remastered. Only one tune is missing, the casualty of a tape malfunction. Other than that the box chronicles the band working through a bunch of new material as Morgan continues his search for a new direction. The lineup is completed by Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and flute, Harold Mabern on piano, Jymie Merritt on electric stand-up bass and Mickey Roker on drums. The Complete Live At The Lighthouse is something to treasure at least as much as Davis's 8 x CDThe Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965 (Columbia Legacy, 1995).

But that is to digress. Back to Davis' 2nd Session 1956 Revisited. As a reissue of widely available and familiar material, does it deserve the rare accolade of five All About Jazz stars? Given the audio quality and as-it-happened track sequencing, and the exalted quality of the music, the answer has to be: you bet it does.

Track Listing

If I Were A Bell; Well, You Needn't; 'Round Midnight; Half Nelson; You're My Everything; I Could Write A Book; Oleo; Airegin; Tune Up; When Lights Are Low; Blues By Five; My Funny Valentine.

Personnel

Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: saxophone; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: bass, acoustic; Philly Joe Jones: drums.

Album information

Title: 2nd Session 1956 Revisited | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Ezz-thetics


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