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Miles Davis - First Miles CD (album) cover


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.47 | 26 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

The name MILES DAVIS is synonymous with jazz god and one has to dig deep to find a single release out of his 40 years on the scene that isn't simply amazing. Sure there are a few less than masterpiece status releases but all in all it is utterly uncanny how this single man who started out all the way back in the 1940s under the tutelage of Charlie Parker and would go on to churn out over 60 studio albums, over 100 live releases and nurtured countless up and coming musicians that went on to become superstars themselves including but not limited to John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin and the list goes on and on and on.

Well despite DAVIS appearing to have been a god in a meat suit, if one goes back far enough it is indeed possible to find early recordings that proved Mr DAVIS was a mere mortal who just happened to have reached god status while still in the flesh later on. FIRST MILES is a collection of the earliest recordings that DAVIS performed on. While more a historical relic than an actual pleasing musical session, this compilation was first released in 1988 on vinyl and then found a CD release in 1990 with a different track listing. Half of this release featured DAVIS' first recordings as a trumpet player in 1945 backing the singer Henry "Rubberlegs" Williams who was quite the character of his day having been a star of the Vaudeville scene and was even an occasional female impersonator as well as an active blues and jazz singer.

The second half of the album featured DAVIS' first recordings as a band leader in 1947 after having been seasoned as a member of Charlie Parker's band for the Savoy label. DAVIS was only 18 years old on these earliest recordings which proves he wasn't just born into the confident band leader that he would become for decades. This is definitely one for the hardcore fans only since this release features multiple alternate takes and false starts and when all is said and done really only features eight different compositions that have been multiple into twenty. Depending which release you happen to experience, you will be either hearing the earliest recordings from 1945 first as presented on the original vinyl release or the flipped version with the 1947 recordings first in line as presented on the majority of reissues.

The tracks that were recorded on April 24, 1945 with the Herbie Fields Band featured Rubberlegs Williams on vocals, DAVIS on trumpet, Herbie Fields on tenor sax and clarinet, Teddy Brannon on piano, Leonard Gaskin on bass and Ed Nicholson on drums. These are vocal jazz tunes that sound more of the style of jazz that was still popular all throughout the 1930s before the world of bop and big band swing had taken over the world. While fairly typical and not exactly finding DAVIS shine yet, these relics from the past show a glimpse of a musical genius when he was still getting his feet wet in the business. The second half shows a more confident DAVIS two years down the road with the lineup of DAVIS on trumpet, Charlie Parker on tenor sax, John Lewis on piano, Nelson Boyd on bass and Max Roach on drums. These compositions were all instrumental and featured DAVIS moving into the world of bebop.

The point of this release seems to have been to show how quickly a young DAVIS went from student to teacher with no looking back as he would soon be cranking out more recordings that any mere mortal should be capable of doing. What FIRST MILES showcases more than anything with its multiple takes is how hard musicians worked back in those days having recorded the same songs countless times which explains why there was such a wealth of material that has been released later as compilations. While this is hardly a release most would enjoy, it is nonetheless historically very important and for anyone wanting to experience every phase of DAVIS' lengthy career will not be disappointed that they took the time to listen to these earliest offerings. Not essential in the least but highly recommended for hardcore fans and historians.

siLLy puPPy | 2/5 |


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