Miles Davis – Miles Ahead (1957)

frontcover1Miles 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. Davis played flugelhorn throughout.

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 originally was produced in mono makes these inserted overdubbings rather obvious in the new stereo setting.

originalfrontcover

Original frontcover

Miles reportedly was 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?”[10] 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.

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.”[8] 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.”[9] 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.” (by wikipedia)

evansdavis

Gil Evans + Miles Davis

This album is perhaps most significant for the process it set in motion — the collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis that would produce Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, two of Davis’ best albums. That said, this album is a miracle in itself, the result of a big gamble on the part of Columbia Records, who put together Evans and Davis, who hadn’t worked together since recording the critically admired but commercially unsuccessful sides that would later be issued as The Birth of the Cool. Columbia also allowed Evans to assemble a 19-piece band for the recordings, at a time when big bands were far out of fashion and also at a time when the resulting recordings could not be released until two years in the future (because of Davis’ contractual obligations with Prestige). Davis was also expected to carry the album as its only soloist, and manage not to get lost among a cast of supporting musicians that included a huge horn section. To a large extent, he succeeds. Evans’ arrangements in particular are well-suited to the format, and cd1he and Davis formed a deep and close partnership where ideas were swapped back and forth, nurtured, and developed long before they were expressed in the studio. Davis gets off to a great start, with the hyper-kinetic “Springsville,” which seems to almost perfectly embody Evans’ and Davis’ partnership with its light, flexible exchanges between soloist and orchestra. He is strongest on the ballads, though, where his subdued and wistful tone rises high above the hushed accompaniment, especially on “Miles Ahead” and “Blues for Pablo” (which foreshadows the bluesy, Latin-tinged sound of Sketches of Spain). The upbeat “I Don’t Want to Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)” is another strong song, but shows the weakness of the format as Davis intersperses a charming, bright, technically challenging solo with a blasting horn section that occasionally buries him. It is a fine end, however, to an album that gave a hint of the greatness that would come as Evans and Davis fine-tuned their partnership over the course of the next several years. (by Stacia Proefrock)

milesdavislive1957

Barney Wilen (ts), Miles Davis (t), René Urtreger (p, hidden), Pierre Michelot (b), Kenny Clarke (d)
during the concert in  the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, December 8, 1957

Personnel:
Danny Bank (clarinet)
Bill Barber (tuba)
Joe Bennett (trombone)
Jim Buffington (french horn)
John Carisi (trumpet)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Sid Cooper (flute, clarinet)
Miles Davis (flugelhorn)
Bernie Glow (trumpet)
Taft Jordan (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Lee Konitz (saxophone)
Tony Miranda (french horn)
Tom Mitchell (trombone)
Louis Mucci (trumpet)
Romeo Penque (flute, clarinet)
Frank Rehak (trombone)
Ernie Royal (trumpet)
Willie Ruff (french horn)
Art Taylor (drums)

Arranged and conducted by Gil Evans

backcover

Tracklist:
01. Springsville (Carisi) 3.27
02. The Maids Of Cadiz (Delibes) 3.53
03. The Duke (Brubeck) – 3:35
04. My Ship (Weill) – 4:28
05. Miles Ahead (Davis/Evans) – 3:29
06. Blues For Pablo (Evans) – 5:18
07. New Rhumba (Jamal) – 4:37
08. Medley Pt. 1: The Meaning Of The Blues (Troup/Worth) 2.48
09. Medley Pt. 2: Lament (Johnson) 2.14
10. I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You) (Elliot/Spina) 3.05
+
11. Springsville (Remake take 7) (Carisi) 3.16
12. Blues For Pablo (Take 1) (Evans) 3.32
13. Meaning Of The Blues-Lament (Rehearsal) (Troup/Worth) 5.10
14. I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone But You) (Alternate take) (Elliot/Spina) 3.11

labelb1

*
**

Miles Davis – `Round About Midnight (1957)

frontcover1‘Round About Midnight is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis. It was his debut on Columbia Records, and was originally released in March 1957 (CL 949). The album took its name from the Thelonious Monk song “‘Round Midnight”. Recording sessions took place at Columbia Studio D on October 26, 1955, and at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio on June 5 and September 10, 1956.

Although it had a lukewarm reception upon its release, ‘Round About Midnight has since been regarded by critics as a masterpiece of the hard bop genre and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

At the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, Davis performed the song “‘Round Midnight” as part of an all-star jam session, with the song’s composer Thelonious Monk, along with Connie Kay and Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. Davis’s solo received an extremely positive reception from many jazz fans, and critics. It was viewed as a significant comeback and indication of a healthy, drug-free Davis (he had in fact been free from heroin addiction for well over a year). Davis’ response to this performance was typically laconic: “What are they talking about? I just played the way I always play.”[5] George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience, and his brother Aram persuaded him that he ought to sign Davis to the label.[6] Davis was eventually signed to Columbia Records, and was able to form his famous “first great quintet” with John Coltrane on saxophone. ‘Round About Midnight was to be his first album for his new label.

Davis was still under contract to Prestige Records, but had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. The recording dates for the album were at Columbia Records’ studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955, at Studio D, during which the track “Ah-Leu-Cha” was recorded along with three other numbers that did not appear on the album. This is the first studio recording of the quintet. The remainder of the album was recorded during sessions on June 5, 1956 (“Dear Old Stockholm”, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Tadd’s Delight”) and September 10, 1956 (“All of You” and the titular “‘Round Midnight”) at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio. During the same period, the Miles Davis Quintet was also recording sessions to fulfill its contract with Prestige. (by wikipedia)

davis01

Given that ‘Round About Midnight was Miles Davis’ debut Columbia recording, it was both a beginning and an ending. Certainly the beginning of his recording career with the label that issued most if not all of his important recordings; and the recording debut of an exciting new band that had within its ranks Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, pianist Red Garland, and an all but unknown tenor player named John Coltrane. The title track was chosen because of its unique rendition with a muted trumpet, and debuted at the Newport Jazz Festival the summer before to a thunderous reception. The date was also an ending of sorts because by the time of the album’s release, Davis had already broken up the band, which re-formed with Cannonball Adderley a year later as a sextet, but it was a tense year.

Musically, this sound is as unusual and as beautiful as it was when issued in 1956. Davis had already led the charge through two changes in jazz — both cool jazz and hard bop — and was beginning to move in another direction here that wouldn’t be defined for another two years. Besides the obvious lyrical and harmonic beauty of “Round About Midnight” that is arguably its definitive version even over Monk’s own, there are the edges of Charlie Parker’s “Au Leu-Cha” with its Bluesology leaping from every chord change in Red Garland’s left hand. Coltrane’s solo here too is notable for its stark contrast to Davis’ own: he chooses an angular tack where he finds the heart of the mode and plays a melody in harmonic counterpoint to the changes but never sounds outside. Cole Porter’s “All of You” has Davis quoting from Louis Armstrong’s “Basin Street Blues” in his solo that takes out the tune, and Coltrane has never respected a melody so much.

davis02

But it’s in “Bye-Bye Blackbird” that we get to hear the band gel as a unit, beginning with Davis playing through the melody, muted and sweet, slightly flatted out until he reaches the harmony on the refrain and begins his solo on a high note. Garland is doing more than comping in the background; he’s slipping chord shapes into those interval cracks and shifting them as the rhythm section keeps “soft time.” When Coltrane moves in for his break, rather than Davis’ spare method, he smatters notes quickly all though the melodic body of the tune and Garland has to compensate harmonically, moving the mode and tempo up a notch until his own solo can bring it back down again. Which he does with a gorgeous all-blues read of the tune utilizing first one hand and then both hands to create fat harmonic chords to bring Davis back in to close it out. It’s breathtaking how seamless it all is. There’s little else to say except that ‘Round About Midnight is among the most essential of Davis’ Columbia recordings. (by Thom Jurek)

davis03

Miles Davis with french actress Jeanne Moreau in 1957

Personnel:
Paul Chambers (bass)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Red Garland (piano)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

backcover1
Tracklist:
01. ‘Round Midnight (Monk/Hanighen/Williams) 5.58
02. Ah-Leu-Cha (Parker) 5.53
03. All Of You (Porter) 7.03
04. Bye Bye Blackbird (Dixon/Henderson) 7.57
05. Tadd’s Delight (Dameron) 4.29
06. Dear Old Stockholm (Traditional/Getz) 7.52
+
07. Two Bass Hit (Lewis/Gillespie) 3.45
08. Little Melonae (McLean) 7.22
09. Budo (Powell/Davis) 4.17
10. Sweet Sue, Just You (Harris/Young) 3.40

labelb1

*
**

Miles Davis – Agharta (1975)

FrontCover1Along with its sister recording, Pangaea, Agharta was recorded live in February of 1975 at the Osaka Festival Hall in Japan. Amazingly enough, given that these are arguably Davis’ two greatest electric live records, they were recorded the same day. Agharta was performed in the afternoon and Pangaea in the evening. Of the two, Agharta is superior. The band with Davis — saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarists Pete Cosey (lead) and Reggie Lucas (rhythm), bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist James Mtume — was a group who had their roots in the radically streetwise music recorded on 1972’s On the Corner, and they are brought to fruition here. The music on Agharta, a total of three tunes spread over two CDs and four LP sides, contains the “Prelude,” which clocks in at over a half-hour. There is “Maiysha” from Get up With It and the Agharta “Interlude,” which segues into the “Theme From Jack Johnson.” The music here is almost totally devoid of melody and harmony, and is steeped into a steamy amalgam of riffs shot through and through with crossing polyrhythms, creating a deep voodoo funk groove for the soloists to inhabit for long periods of time as they solo and interact with one another.

MilesDavis01

Davis’ band leading at this time was never more exacting or free. The sense of dynamics created by the stop-start accents and the moods, textures, and colors brought out by this particular interaction of musicians is unparalleled in Davis’ live work — yeah, that includes the Coltrane and Bill Evans bands, but they’re like apples and oranges anyway. Driven by the combination of Davis’ direction and the soloing of Sonny Fortune and guitarist Pete Cosey, who is as undervalued and underappreciated for his incalculable guitar-slinging gifts as Jimi Hendrix is celebrated for his, and the percussion mania of Mtume, the performance on Agharta is literally almost too much of a good thing to bear. When Cosey starts his solo in the “Prelude” at the 12-minute mark, listeners cannot be prepared for the Hendrixian energy and pure electric whammy-bar weirdness that’s about to come splintering out of the speakers. As the band reacts in intensity, the entire proceeding threatens to short out the stereo. These are some of the most screaming notes ever recorded. Luckily, since this is just the first track on the whole package, Davis can bring the tempos down a bit here and there and snake them into spots that I don’t think even he anticipated before that afternoon (check the middle of “Maiysha” and the second third of “Jack Johnson” for some truly creepy and beautiful wonders). While Pangaea is awesome as well, there is simply nothing like Agharta in the canon of recorded music. This is the greatest electric funk-rock jazz record ever made — period. (by Thom Jurek)

MilesDavis02

Personnel:
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion, synthesizer)
Miles Davis (organ, trumpet)
Sonny Fortune (saxophone, flute)
Al Foster (drums)
Michael Henderson (bass)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
James Mtume (percussion, rhythm box, water drums)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Prelude (Part 1) 22.34
02. Prelude (Part 2) / Maiysha 23.01
03.Interlude 26.17
04. Theme from Jack Johnson 25.59

All compositions written by Miles Davis

LabelD1

*
**

Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (1959)

OriginalFrontCover1Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released on August 17, 1959, by Columbia Records. It was recorded earlier that year on March 2 and April 22 at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City. The recording sessions featured Davis’s ensemble sextet, consisting of pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, together with pianist Wynton Kelly on one track.

After the entry of Evans into his sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) by basing Kind of Blue entirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz.

Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Kind of Blue has been regarded by many critics as jazz’s greatest record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time. Its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. Kind of Blue was one of fifty recordings chosen in 2002 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, and in 2003, it was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

MilesDavis01

By late 1958, Davis employed one of the best and most profitable working bands pursuing the hard bop style. His personnel had become stable: alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Bill Evans, long-serving bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. His band played a mixture of pop standards and bebop originals by Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Tadd Dameron. As with all bebop-based jazz, Davis’s groups improvised on the chord changes of a given song.[1] Davis was one of many jazz musicians growing dissatisfied with bebop, and saw its increasingly complex chord changes as hindering creativity.

MilesDavis02In 1953, the pianist George Russell published his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, which offered an alternative to the practice of improvisation based on chords and chord changes. Abandoning the traditional major and minor key relationships, the Lydian Chromatic Concept introduced the idea of chord/scale unity and was the first theory to explore the vertical relationship between chords and scales, as well as the only original theory to come from jazz. This approach led the way to “modal” in jazz. Influenced by Russell’s ideas, Davis implemented his first modal composition with the title track of his studio album Milestones (1958). Satisfied with the results, Davis prepared an entire album based on modality. Pianist Bill Evans, who had studied with Russell but recently departed from Davis’s sextet to pursue his own career, was drafted back into the new recording project, the sessions that would become Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue was recorded on three-track tape in two sessions at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio in New York City. On March 2, 1959, the tracks “So What”, “Freddie Freeloader”, and “Blue in Green” were recorded for side one of the original LP, and on April 22 the tracks “All Blues” and “Flamenco Sketches” were recorded, making up side two. Production was handled by Teo Macero, who had produced Davis’s previous two LPs, and Irving Townsend.

As was Davis’s penchant, he called for almost no rehearsal and the musicians had little idea what they were to record. As described in the original liner notes by pianist Bill Evans, Davis had only given the band sketches of scales and melody lines on which to improvise. Once the musicians were assembled, Davis gave brief instructions for each piece and then set to taping the sextet in studio. While the results were impressive with so little preparation, the persistent legend that the entire album was recorded in one pass is untrue. (by wikipedia)

Studio1

Kind of Blue isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album. To be reductive, it’s the Citizen Kane of jazz — an accepted work of greatness that’s innovative and entertaining. That may not mean it’s the greatest jazz album ever made, but it certainly is a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps it’s that this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of “So What.” From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It’s the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from chords, not the overall key, giving the music a subtly shifting quality. All of this doesn’t quite explain why seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they’ve memorized every nuance.

MilesDavis03

They return because this is an exceptional band – Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly — one of the greatest in history, playing at the peak of its power. As Evans said in the original liner notes for the record, the band did not play through any of these pieces prior to recording. Davis laid out the themes and chords before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised. The end results were wondrous, filled with performances that still crackle with vitality. Few albums of any genre manage to work on so many different levels, but Kind of Blue does. It can be played as background music, yet it amply rewards close listening. It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don’t like Kind of Blue, you don’t like jazz — but it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

In other words: A masterpiece of jazz, a masterpiece of music ! One of the most important albums from the last century !

MilesDavis04

Personnel:
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (saxophone)
Paul Chambers (bass)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Bill Evans (piano)
+
Wynton Kelly — piano (on 02.)

OriginalBackCover1
Tracklist:
01. So What (Davis) 9.04
02. Freddie Freeloader (Davis) 9.34
03. Blue In Green (Davis/Evans) 5.27
04. All Blues (Davis) 11.33
05. Flamenco Sketches (Davis/Evans) 9.26
+
06. Flamenco Sketches (alternate take) (Davis/Evans) 9.34
07. Freddie Freeloader (studio sequence 1) (Davis) 0.53
08. Freddie Freeloader (false start) (Davis) 1.27
09. Freddie Freeloader (studio sequence 2) (Davis) 1.30
10. So What (studio sequence 1) (Davis) 1.55
11. So What (studio sequence 2) (Davis) 0.13
12. Blue In Green (studio sequence) (Davis/Evans) 1.58
13. Flamenco Sketches (studio sequence 1) (Davis/Evans) 0.45
14. Flamenco Sketches (studio sequence 2) (Davis/Evans) 1.12
15. All Blues (studio sequence) (Davis) 0.18
16. On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper/Washington) 9.50
17. Fran-Dance (Davis) 5.49
18. Stella By Starlight (Young/Washington) 4.46
19. Love For Sale (Porter)  11.49
20. Fran-Dance (alternate take) (Davis) 5.53
21. So What (recorded at Kurhaus, The Hague, April 9, 1960) (Davis) 17.29

 

LabelB1

*
**

Inlay1

 

Miles Davis – Live At The Royal Festival Hall (1971)

FrontCover1This is what Miles wrote in his autobiography: “Airto Moreira quit early in 1971 and I got Jimmy Heath’s son, Mtume, to replace him on percussion. We didn’t record for a while because you have to let a band get used to playing together before you record anything. We went out on the road to try to get things together.

“Jack DeJohnette left the group late in 1971, around the same time Keith Jarrett left. I wanted the drummer to play certain funk rhythms, a role just like everybody else in the group had. I didn’t want the band playing totally free all the time, because I was moving closer to the funk groove in my head. Now, Jack could play drums like a motherf***er in a groove; he could really do that shit, but he also wanted to do other things, play a little freer, be a leader, do things his own way, so he left…

MilesDavis01“I tried out Leon Ndugu Chancler… But after Gary Bartz, Keith, and Jack left my working band, I got my musicians from funk groups and not jazz bands because that’s the way I was going. Those guys were the last pure jazz players I’ve had in my bands up until today.”

Thanks to jkeisers who shared the lossless tracks on the internet, fans can now listen to this not-widely-circulated recording of Miles Davis at the Royal Festival Hall in London on November 13, 1971.

While the recording is sourced from an audio cassette, jkeisers adds: “I don’t think that this is an audience recording, but I’m not sure. Remastered by me. One or two glitches. Audible tape flip that I didn’t try to fix.”

Recored live at the Royal Festival Hall, London, November 13, 1971.

MilesDavis1971Personnel:
Charles Don Alias (percussion)
Gary Bartz (saxophone)
“Ndugu” Leon Chancler (drums)
Miles Davis (trumoet)
James “Mtume” Foreman (percussion)
Michael Henderson (bass)
Keith Jarrett (keyboards)

AlternateFrontCover

Tracklist:
01. Directions (Zawinul) 11.15
02. What I Say? (Davis) 15.24
03. Sanctuary (Shorter/Davis) 3.51
04. It’s About That Time (Davis) 15.55
05. Honky Tonk (Davis) 14.25
06. Funky Tonk (Davis) 15.45
07. Sanctuary (Shorter/Davis) 1.35

MilesDavis02
*
**

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.

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover

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

BackCover1
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

DavisColtrane3*
**

VA – Très Chic – French Cool From Paris To The Côte d’Azur (2013)

FrontCover1Retro French music is very much in vogue on this side of the Channel and Union Square have sought to capitalise on this by releasing this most entertaining overview of 1950s and 1960s French music. While any two CD compilation can only ever hope to scratch the surface and more in-depth anthologies are required to be fully comprehensive, for the neophyte this actually serves it’s purpose well of introducing the listener to a whole raft of musicians. The music is neatly divided up between male crooners, Left bank existentialist singers, women singers and jazzier influences that includes both instrumentalists from famous French new wave film soundtracks, or French jazzers. Among the crooners, Yves Montand deserves to be heard by an anglophone audience and his interpretations of the music of Prévert are near definitive. Here he delivers the smooth sounding ‘C’est si bon’. Talking of smooth operators, Sacha Distel takes some beating and it may come as a surprise to non-French readers to learn that he was a very accomplished jazz guitarist before becoming a singer. Arguably his most famous song is showcased here, ‘Scoubidoo’. Henri Salvador gained international recognition late in his career, but this early jazz scat, ‘C’est le be bop’, is an indication of what was to follow. While Charles Aznavour is best known in the UK for ‘She’, his late 1950s and early 1960s sides were full of emotion and jazzy orchestrations and ‘Je me voyais, déjà’ is typical of his output from the era. For more left-field sounds, this compilation deserves great credit for including some of the following singers. Bobby Lapointe came to prominence as a subversive singer who made a brief appearance in François Truffaut’s ‘Shoot the pianist’ film. Here ‘Framboise’ is boisterous, fast-paced and a delight from start to finish.

Inlet01APreceding the 1960s starlettes by a decade, Juliette Gréco possesses a deep, throaty voice that was ideally suited to interpreting Gainsbourg and Prévert and ‘Si tu t’imagines’ is just one of her vast repertoire and a fine example at that. Léo Ferré is the current French president’s favourite singer and the melodic ‘A Saint Germain des Prés’ is an early illustration of Ferré’s beautiful voice. He would later become famous for his lengthy literary raps and he was very much an anti-establishment figure. Barbara may be less known outside France, but has few equals in France as a singer-songwriter and ‘Dis quand reviendras-tu?’ is a fine example of her pared down sound. Jacques Brel needs little introduction, but for those as yet unaware ‘La valse à mille temps’ shifts gear as only Brel knows how and he is an all-time great of the French language. Last, but by no means least, Serge Gainsbourg is nothing less than a national treasure, but interestingly for those who are familiar with his later psychedelic period, here the focus is on his jazz period. Both ‘Intoxicated man’ and ‘Requiem pour un twister’ are superior examples of his early period that stand the test of time. A trio of French women singers includes the obligatory Françoise Hardy and her seminal ‘Tous les garcons et les filles’, another Truffaut sound track song by Jeanne Moreau, ‘Le Tourbillon’, featured in the delightful ‘Jules et Jim’ film and a melancholic sounding Brigitte Bardot on ‘Sidonie’.

Inlet02AJazz musicians featured include Miles Davis and his stunning contribution to Louis Malle’s ‘Lift to the Scaffold’ film and pianist Martial Solal and the terrific soundtrack to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal ‘A bout de souffle’/’Breathless’. Noteworthy are two other pieces, the Latin-jazz influenced ‘No hay problema’ by Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers and a vocal number by Claude Nougaro. This French singer deserves a compilation of his own for an English-speaking audience, such is the richness of his 1960s jazz and 1970s Brazilian flavoured songs. A final mention should be made for France’s answer to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, les Double Six who deliver a stunning version of one of Art Blakey’s staple tunes ‘Moanin’. All in all a musical experience that is truly a ‘joie de vivre’! (by Tim Stenhouse)

BackCover1
Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Françoise Hardy: Le temps de l’amour (Dutronc/Salvet/Morisse) 2.23
02. Serge Gainsbourg: Requiem pour un twisteur (Gainsbourg) 2.37
03. Jeanne Moreau: Le tourbillon (Bassiak/Delerue) 2.03
04. Les Double Six: Rat Race (Jones/Perrin) 2.35
05. Claude Nougaro: Le cinéma (Legrand/Nougaro) 2.56
06. Sacha Distel: Brigitte (Brousolle/Distel) 2.17
07. Magali Noël: Alhambra-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.35
08. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: No hay problema (Marray) 4.33
09. Charles Aznavour: Je m’voyais déjà (Aznavour) 3.22
10. Claude Nougaro: Les Don Juan (Legrand/Nougaro) 3.17
11. Léo Ferré: À Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Ferré) 3.01
12. Michel Legrand: Blues chez le bougnat (Legrand) 2.08
13. Charles Trenet: Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (Trenet/Chauliac) 3.10
14. Henri Salvador: C’est le be bop (Vian/Dieval) 2.05
15. Sacha Distel: Marina (Reardon/Distel) 4.11
16. Mouloudji: Comme un p’tit coquelicot (Grasso/Valery) 3.43
17. Anna Karina: Chanson d’Angela (Legrand/Godard) 2.23
18. Boby Lapointe: Framboise (Lapointe) 2.39
19. Catherine Sauvage: Black Trombone (Gainsbourg) 2.29
20. Corinne Marchand: La joueuse (Varda/Legrand) 1.52

CD 2:
01. Claude Nougaro: Le jazz et la java (Datin/Nougaro) 2.24
02. Françoise Hardy: Tous les garçons et les filles (Hardy/Samyn) 3.05
03. Serge Gainsbourg: Intoxicated Man (Gainsbourg) 2.35
04. Line Renaud: Sexe (Gaste) 3.32
05. Jacqueline Dano: Chanson de Lola (Varda/Legrand) 2.12
06. Jacques Brel: La valse à mille temps (Brel) 3.48
07. Martial Solal: New York Herald Tribune (Solal) 1.26
08. Les Double Six: Moanin’ (Timmons) 3.09
09. Magali Noël: Strip-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.16
10. Boris Vian: Je suis snob (Walter/Vian) 2.49
11. Brigitte Bardot: Sidonie (Cros/Spanos/Riviere) 2.52
12. Barbara: Dis quand reviendras tu? (Barbara) 2.52
13. Juliette Gréco: Si tu t’imagines (Queneau) 2.42
14. Yves Montand: C’est si bon (Homez/Betti) 2.33
15. Henry Cording: Vas t’faire cuire un oeuf man (Sinclair/Mike) 2.51
16. Sacha Distel: Scoubidou (Teze/Distel) 3.00
17. Gilbert Becaud: Me-que-me-que (Becaus/Aznavour) 2.27
18. The Miles Davis Ensemble: Générique (nuit sur Les Champs-Élysées) (Davis) 2.53
19. Brigitte Fontaine & Areski: Il pleut sur la gare (Areski/Faintaine) 1.47
20. Valérie Lagrange: Si ma chanson pouvait (Lagrange) 5.25

CD1A

*
**

Booklet07A