Miles Davis – Kurhaus, Scheveningen (1960)

FrontCover1This is the Miles Davis Quintet, recorded for a radio broadcast at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, in April of 1960. Of course, it’s one thing to say that this is the Miles Davis Quintet, and quite another to remind you that tenor saxophone duties in that band were covered by a young man named John Coltrane. In fact, with the exception that neither Bill Evans (piano) nor Julian “Cannonball” Adderly (alto sax) were in attendence on this spring day in Holland, this is the same band that had recorded frequent best-jazz-album-ever candidate Kind of Blue less than a year earlier.

A more “vintage” (that is, older and more trebly) version of this recording has circulated for decades, but in 2005, it was re-broadcast in the Netherlands, presumably from the DavisColtrane2archival master tapes, and that’s the version I’m giving you here. (The slightly obtrusive comments by the announcer at beginning and end are a small price to pay for near-pristine sound.) And the performance is nothing less than sublime. In fact, this is a perfect snapshot of the Davis Quintet at a pivotal point in its development, squarely between the distinctive “hard bop” sound that characterized its classic late 50s recordings (Cookin’, Steamin’, Workin’ and Relaxin’) and the “modal” colors with which Davis (first with Coltrane, and then without) essentially revolutionized jazz between 1959 and the early-to-mid 1960s. The contrast in styles is no more evident than on the stunning 17-minute version of “So What” that kicks off this set, and sets Miles’ understated cool and impeccable tone against ‘Trane’s incendiary virtuosity. I hope that all of our readers who are jazz buffs, but also everyone who has enjoyed the brilliant musicianship that we have sampled at every step in this series, from classic rock to punk, and from power pop to indie rock, will take the time to appreciate that these cats — as much as Bob Dylan and The Beatles a few years later — were the giants, and true musical revolutionaries, of their day.

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Personnel:
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro 0.28
02. So What (Davis) 17.16
03. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper/Washington) 12.30
04.  ‘Round Midnight (Hanighen/Williams/Monk) 6.02
05. Walkin’ (Carpenter) 10.18
06. Outro 0.17

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