All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Hyperbole aside, this disc's title could hardly be more accurate. Miles Davis. Milt Jackson. Thelonius Monk. John Coltrane. That doesn't even count the legendary rhythm sections (Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke in one, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones in the other). Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants is made up of two sessions, with four tracks from an all-star group with Jackson and Monk from 1954 (which also yielded the title track to Davis's Bags Groove ) and one track from the first of the famous 1956 Davis quintet's marathon recordings that produced Workin' , Steamin ', Cookin' and Relaxin'. The music is unquestionably excellent, yielding sterling and signature input from each participant. The first of these two sessions is famous for being the one where the cranky trumpeter was miffed by the cantankerous Monk's playing behind his solos. "That's bullshit," according to label owner and session supervisor Bob Weinstock in the recently released The Prestige Records Story box set (and confirmed in this disc's liner notes by Ira Gitler),. "Miles didn't want him to comp on one tune. There was no hostility, no fighting. I've heard that story many times but those guys had total respect for each other." Indeed, the musical evidence bears Weinstock out. The rapport among these leaders however edgy it certainly must have been in the studio on that Christmas Eve day works to the music's advantage. The quintet excels on Davis's "Swing Spring," Monk's "Bemsha Swing" and two very different takes of Gershwin's "The Man I Love." The lone 1956 track is Davis's breathtaking signature reverie on Monk's "Round Midnight," with the trumpeter's familiar and definitive quintet. This collection essentially documents two important summit meetings from some of the greatest individuals jazz has ever known. Hyperbole aside, the results are significant and timeless.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.