Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964 is an anomaly among the retrospective sets that have been issued from the late artist's catalog. It does not focus on particular collaborations (Miles with Coltrane, Gil Evans, the second quintet), complete sessions of historic albums (Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way, and Jack Johnson), or live runs (Plugged Nickel and Montreux). Instead, it is a portrait of the artist in flux, in the space between legendary bands, when he was looking for a new mode of expression, trying to find the band that would help him get there. These seven CDs begin after the demise of bands that included John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly, after his landmark Gil Evans period, and even after his attempts at creating a new band with everyone from Frank Strozier and Harold Mabern to Sonny Rollins and J.J. Johnson.
With the release of the spectral title tune, and the efforts of the Columbia marketing and publicity departments behind him, a thirty-year old Miles Davis entered into a period of extraordinary artistic maturity and growth. And Miles instinctively knew how to cultivate his star quality. Looming behind those shades, was the diffident, sensitive anti-hero–proud and defiant–who only spoke to his audience through his horn, and turned his back on them when the other soloists were blowing.
The combination of attitude and intellect was irresistible. Beginning with ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT and proceeding through a remarkable succession of famous recordings over the next 30 years, Miles Davis became one of the greatest soloists, arrangers and talent scouts in the history of American music. People who didn't own a single jazz record came to know his name–Miles was a jazz icon.
Until now, the official recordings of Miles Davis' performances at the Fillmore East between June 17 and 20, 1970 have been limited to the double album Miles at the Fillmore. That set's producer Teo Macero, edited the recordings to create medleys of each night's music to four roughly 20-minute selections. This four-disc set contains all four concerts. There are 100 minutes of previously unreleased music from Wednesday through Saturday; an additional 35 minutes of unreleased music comes from a previous gig at the Fillmore West.
Along with its sister recording, Pangaea, Agharta was recorded live in February of 1975 at the Osaka Festival Hall in Japan. Amazingly enough, given that these are arguably Davis' two greatest electric live records, they were recorded the same day. Agharta was performed in the afternoon and Pangaea in the evening. Of the two, Agharta is superior. The band with Davis – saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarists Pete Cosey (lead) and Reggie Lucas (rhythm), bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist James Mtume – was a group who had their roots in the radically streetwise music recorded on 1972's On the Corner, and they are brought to fruition here.
This CD compilation presents, on 8 discs, 17 recording sessions made between 1951 and late 1956 by the extraordinary trumpeter, leader, composer, and perpetual catalyst–Miles Davis. Featured in this collection are such major artists as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, and the original Davis Quintet: John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. The expanse of Miles Davis's recordings for Prestige Records, the California analogue to New York's Blue Note, is huge. In terms of artistic development, the eight CDs in this box span Davis's development from tentative searching through the full bloom of his first great quintet, whose frontline boasted Davis and a young John Coltrane.
None of Miles Davis' recordings has been more shrouded in mystery than Jack Johnson, yet none has better fulfilled Miles Davis' promise that he could form the "greatest rock band you ever heard." Containing only two tracks, the album was assembled out of no less than four recording sessions between February 18, 1970, and June 4, 1970, and was patched together by producer Teo Macero. Most of the outtake material ended up on Directions, Big Fun, and elsewhere. The first misconception is the lineup: the credits on the recording are incomplete. For the opener, "Right Off," the band is Miles, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Michael Henderson, and Steve Grossman (no piano player!), which reflects the liner notes.
With their second album, Miles Smiles, the second Miles Davis Quintet really began to hit their stride, delving deeper into the more adventurous, exploratory side of their signature sound. This is clear as soon as "Orbits" comes crashing out the gate, but it's not just the fast, manic material that has an edge – slower, quieter numbers are mercurial, not just in how they shift melodies and chords, but how the voicing and phrasing never settles into a comfortable groove. This is music that demands attention, never taking predictable paths or easy choices.
Miles Davis' concert of February 12, 1964, was originally divided into two LPs, with all of the ballads put on My Funny Valentine. These five lengthy tracks (which include "All of You," "Stella by Starlight," "All Blues," "I Thought About You," and the title cut) put the emphasis on the lyricism of Davis, along with some strong statements from tenor saxophonist George Coleman and freer moments from the young rhythm section of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams.
A 3CD box set collection chronicling Miles’ musical evolution in the studio from 1966-1968 working with his “second great quintet,” the latest edition in Columbia/Legacy’s acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series provides an unprecedented look into the artist’s creative process, drawing on full session reels including all rehearsals, partial and alternate takes, extensive and fascinating studio conversation and more. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Miles Smiles, the groundbreaking second studio album from the Miles Davis Quintet–Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums)–this definitive new collection includes the master takes of performances which would appear on the Miles Smiles (1967), Nefertiti (1968) and Water Babies (recorded 1967, released 1976) albums alongside more than two hours worth of previously unreleased studio recordings from original sessions produced by Teo Macero (with the exception of “Fall,” produced by Howard A. Roberts).