Miles Ahead (album)

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Miles Ahead
MilesAhead original.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 21, 1957[1]
RecordedMay 6, 10, 23, 27 & August 22, 1957
StudioColumbia 30th Street Studio, New York City
Genre
Length37:21
LabelColumbia (CL 1041)
ProducerGeorge Avakian, Cal Lampley
Miles Davis chronology
'Round About Midnight
(1957)
Miles Ahead
(1957)
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
(1958)
Alternate cover
LP cover used for reissues
LP cover used for reissues

Miles Ahead is an album by Miles Davis that was released in 1957 by Columbia Records. It was Davis' first collaboration with arranger Gil Evans following the Birth of the Cool sessions. Along with their subsequent collaborations Porgy and Bess (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960), Miles Ahead is one of the most famous recordings of Third Stream, a fusion of jazz, European classical, and world musics.[2] Davis played flugelhorn throughout.

Background[edit]

Evans combined the ten pieces that make up the album into a suite, each flowing into the next without interruption; the only exception to this rule was on the title track since it was placed last on side A (this has been corrected on the CD versions). Davis is the only soloist on Miles Ahead, which features a large ensemble consisting of sixteen woodwind and brass players. Art Taylor played drums on the sessions and the then current Miles Davis Quintet member Paul Chambers was the bassist.

A fifth recording date involved Davis alone (re-)recording material to cover or patch mistakes or omissions in his solos using overdubbing. The fact that this album was originally produced in mono makes these inserted overdubbings rather obvious in the new stereo setting.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic5/5 stars[4]
Down Beat4.5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly(A)[6]
The Independent(favorable)[7]
Penguin Guide to Jazz4/4 stars[8]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave Miles Ahead a four-star rating out of a possible four stars, and called the album "a quiet masterpiece... with a guaranteed place in the top flight of Miles albums."[9] Of Davis' flugelhorn, Kevin Whitehead of Cadence wrote that it "seemed to suit [Davis] better than trumpet: more full-bodied, less shrill, it glosses over his technical deficiencies."[10] The Penguin Guide, on the other hand, opined that "the flugelhorn's sound isn't so very different from his trumpet soloing, though palpably softer-edged.... [S]ome of the burnish seems to be lost."[9]

Album cover[edit]

Miles was reportedly unhappy about the album's original cover, which featured a photograph of a young white woman and child aboard a sailboat. He made his displeasure known to Columbia executive George Avakian, asking, "Why'd you put that white bitch on there?"[11] Avakian later stated that the question was made in jest. For later releases of the record, however, the original cover-photo has been substituted by a photograph of Miles Davis.

Jon Hendricks' Vocalisation[edit]

Jon Hendricks had been working on vocalising Miles' parts on the album for over 50 years, and Pete Churchill, on hearing this, approached him to talk about developing it with ensemble the London Vocal Project. Together they finished scoring all the parts and writing the lyrics, for the band parts as well as for Miles, which the LVP then rehearsed extensively. On 17th February, 2017, the LVP performed the entire album at St Peter's Church in New York, which was funded by Quincy Jones. The soloists were Anita Wardell, Michele Hendricks, Kevin Fitzgerald Burke, and Jessica Radcliffe.[12][13]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Springsville" (John Carisi) – 3:27
  2. "The Maids of Cadiz" (Léo Delibes) – 3:53
  3. "The Duke" (Dave Brubeck) – 3:35
  4. "My Ship" (Kurt Weill) – 4:28
  5. "Miles Ahead" (Davis, Evans) – 3:29
  6. "Blues for Pablo" (Evans) – 5:18
  7. "New Rhumba" (Ahmad Jamal) – 4:37
  8. Medley Pt. 1: "The Meaning of the Blues" (Bobby Troup, Leah Worth) – 2:48
  9. Medley Pt. 2: "Lament" (J. J. Johnson) – 2:14
  10. "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)" (Jack Elliot/Harold Spina) – 3:05

A current CD reissue contains alternate takes of "Springsville", "Miles Ahead" (incorrectly labeled as being one of "Blues for Pablo"), a complete rehearsal take of "The Meaning of the Blues", and "Lament" (recorded as a continuous track by Avakian as a contingency plan) and "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)".

Personnel[edit]

Source: Miles Ahead (album) at Discogs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miles Davis.com
  2. ^ a b Kanzler, George. "Miles Revisited: Sketches of Spain (50th Anniversary Edition) & Miles Ahead Live". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Allmusic review
  5. ^ Down Beat review
  6. ^ Entertainment Weekly review
  7. ^ The Independent review
  8. ^ Penguin Guide to Jazz review
  9. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 321. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
  10. ^ Whitehead, Kevin (1994). Ron Wynn, ed. All Music Guide to Jazz. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. p. 196. ISBN 0-87930-308-5.
  11. ^ Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, 1989, ISBN 0-671-63504-2.
  12. ^ https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwmusic/article/Jon-Hendricks-MILES-AHEAD-Gets-New-York-Premiere-217-20170206
  13. ^ http://www.londonvocalproject.com/milesahead/