VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
22 APR 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Think of the new The Definitive Miles Davis On Prestige as a "takeout box" of the more comprehensive Chronicle: The Complete Prestige Recordings 1951- '56. Even if you don't get the entire sumptuous Davis buffet, you still get a tremendously satisfying meal.
This distillation of the trumpet master's essential work for the label splits across two discs that showcase Davis in front of all-star ensembles put together just for these sessions, and then his first great quintet with Red Garland, John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers.
Disc one features the most enduring fruit from Davis' legendary Christmas Eve 1954 session, an insouciantly cool "Bags' Groove" that features solos from Davis, Milt Jackson and Thelonious Monk, each just as dazzling as the one before. It also captures Davis' electrifying and brilliant solo turns in the "Walkin'" blues with which he strolled into the rare instrumentalists' air of the indomitable Louis Armstrong. His classic quintet devours Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" on disc two, reaching from hard-bop back to be-bop, spanning jazz generations. This second disc also reveals their luminous "'Round Midnight," a meditation as mysteriously and awesomely deep as eternity.
Please don't overlook the ballads, timeless and beautiful muted acoustic readings of "It Never Entered My Mind" (rippling with Red Garland's gorgeous piano ostinatos) and "My Funny Valentine" that were new visions, more than just new versions, of these tunes. The Definitive Prestige spotlights every facet of Davis' brilliance.