Jazz CD Reviews

Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet – Prestige/Concord

It was Miles’ leadership which made star material out of these performers.

Published on August 9, 2007

Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet – Prestige/Concord
Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet – Prestige/Concord RVG Remaster mono PRCD-30167, 40:03 *****:

(Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)

This is probably the most famous of the four LPs issued 50 years ago as part of Miles’ wrapping up his contract with the Prestige label before he began his association with Columbia (which resulted in Kind of Blue and many others).  Steamin’ has been reissued many times, and although I only have one of them, I think you couldn’t go wrong with this latest effort from the original recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder.  It’s another of his “deep mono” masters and the sonics are very clean and well-balanced throughout. Comparison with a couple of the others of the set of four albums which were reissued on SACD frankly doesn’t show that much better fidelity.

This quintet – with Coltrane and Garland – only really lasted about a year and a half and didn’t record that much aside from these four classic Prestige albums: Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, Steamin’. They came out of two marathon recording sessions in which the quintet, playing at their peak, tried to emulate the sort of program they would be performing live in the NYC jazz club. It was Miles’ leadership which made star material out of these performers.  Listening to any of the four albums makes it difficult to believe some of the earlier accusations about the band members: that Coltrane often played out of tune, Garland was just a cocktail pianist, and Jones was one of those drummers who played so loud the other musicians couldn’t be heard.

TrackList: Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Salt Peanuts, Something I Dreaming Last Night, Diane, Well You Needn’t, When I Fall in Love

- John Henry




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