Miles Davis – Blue Haze (1956)

FrontCover1Blue Haze is a compilation album of tracks recorded in 1953 and 1954 by Miles Davis for Prestige Records.

The album is a reissue in 12″ format of the 10″ LP Miles Davis Quartet (PRLP 161), with “I’ll Remember April” added. Tracks 4,6, 7, and 8 come from Prestige PREP 1326, The Miles Davis Quartet, recorded 19 May 1953. It features a quartet with John Lewis on piano —replaced on “Smooch” by its co-composer Charles Mingus— Percy Heath, the bassist throughout the album, and Max Roach on drums. Tracks 2, 3, and 5, from March 15, 1954, with Horace Silver on piano and Art Blakey on drums, were first released on PREP 1360, titled Miles Davis Quartet. The first track on the album is from the 3 April 1954 session which resulted in half of the album Walkin’ (and was originally included on the 10″ LP Miles Davis Quintet (PRLP 185).

Billboard, October 17, 1956:
Billboard October 1956

The compositions “Four” and “Tune Up” were always credited to Davis, although both were claimed by Eddie Vinson to be his compositions. Vinson was a known blues singer at that time and had no use for them and gave Davis permission to record them. No one expressed opposition to the false crediting until decades later.

The album’s last track, “Miles Ahead” is not the same composition as featured on the album of the same name, but is the changes to John Lewis’ tune “Milestones”. (wikipedia)

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Blue Haze documents two Prestige sessions from May 1953 and March 1954 (plus “I’ll Remember April,” with altoist Davey Schildkraut, from the April 3, 1954 session that yielded half of Walkin’). During this time, a resurgent Miles Davis began to zero in on his own style and sound, taking significant steps away from the rhythmic and harmonic devices of his mentor Dizzy Gillespie. Paralleling his recorded work for Blue Note, Davis was also working with some of the greatest rhythm players in the history of jazz.

Alternate front + backcover from UK:
AlternateFront+BackCover

Blue Haze finds Davis the lone featured horn. “When Lights Are Low” is one of Benny Carter’s most famous melodies, and the song-like cadences suit the ripe, chipper tone of Davis’ horn. John Lewis’ Monk-ish chords signal the sprightly head to “Tune Up,” as Percy Heath and Max Roach groove manfully along. “Miles Ahead” is derived from Davis’ earlier “Milestones” (neither of which should be confused with subsequent titles and tunes for Columbia). Davis’ loping solo illustrates his leisurely ease in constructing a melody, but his dancing eights with Roach illuminate what fires simmer beneath the surface.

Alternate labels from UK:
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Cut by cut, this set documents the trumpeter’s search for his ideal rhythm mates. Thanks to Heath, Art Blakey, and especially Horace Silver, Davis here sounds far more relaxed, swinging, and rhythmically complex on his famous melody “Four.” Their interplay on “Old Devil Moon” is a study in give and take, tension and release. And aroused as he is by Heath’s booming blues beat, Blakey’s ghostly sizzle cymbal, and Silver’s taut accompaniment, Davis turns the title tune into as expressive a film noir blues as you’re likely to hear this side of Raymond Chandler. (by Rovi Staff)

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Personnel:
Art Blakey (drums on 02., 03 + 05.)
Kenny Clarke (drums on 01.
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Percy Heath (bass)
John Lewis (piano on 06. – 08.)
Charles Mingus (piano on 04.)
Max Roach (drums on 06. – 08.)
Horace Silver (piano (on 01., 02., 03. + 05.
David Schildkraut (saxophone  on 01.)
CDBooklet1Tracklist:
01.I’ll Remember April (Raye/de Paul/Johnston) (April 3, 1954) 7.53
02. Four (Davis) 4.01
03. Old Devil Moon (Lane/Harburg) 3.23
04. Smooch (Davis/Mingus) 3.05
05. Blue Haze (Davis) 6:12
06. When Lights Are Low (Carter/Williams) 3.26
07. Tune Up (Davis) 3.53
08. Miles Ahead (Davis) 4.29

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