Birdland 1951

Birdland 1951

by Miles Davis
     
 
What a fascinating album! On this collection of radio broadcasts -- some of which have shown up in bootleg form, others never before released -- from New York’s premier jazz club of the 1950s, trumpeter Miles Davis is captured live, performing with such exceptional contemporaries as Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, J. J. Johnson, and a host of

Overview

What a fascinating album! On this collection of radio broadcasts -- some of which have shown up in bootleg form, others never before released -- from New York’s premier jazz club of the 1950s, trumpeter Miles Davis is captured live, performing with such exceptional contemporaries as Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, J. J. Johnson, and a host of excellent players not usually associated with the Davis universe, including saxophonists Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Big Nick Nicholas and pianist Billy Taylor. If the sound quality is rough, the fervor of the playing is always gripping. Although Davis had, just the year before, completed the historic recordings that would come to be called The Birth of the Cool -- music that set off a more lyrical and low-keyed aesthetic in jazz -- these live performances find him firmly in a bebop mood, slashing the air with the kind of trumpet intensity that doesn’t always come to mind when Davis’s playing is mentioned. The illustrious names are spurred on by Davis, and, in turn, spur him on. Here is more proof that Davis, blowing bebop with the best of them, was a musician of many moods, each one handled masterfully.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
These ten tracks, taken from radio broadcasts from the legendary Birdland in 1951, represent a particularly fruitful period in Miles Davis' development as a bandleader. There are three different broadcasts included here; two comprising six cuts in total were from June and September and have been issued in various forms on bootlegs over the decades. Four cuts, however, taken from a broadcast on February 17, have never been available in any form and it is these as well the marginally better fidelity of the entire set that makes this worth owning for Miles freaks -- and only Miles freaks. The sextet on the February and June dates included J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Tommy Potter, and Kenny Drew. In September, Charles Mingus, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Billy Taylor, and Big Nick Nicholas joined Davis and Blakey. The fidelity here is listed on the sleeve as "primitive." That's a nice way to say it sucks bad. These are better than Charlie Parker's Dean Benedetti recordings, but not by much. Soundwise, the best that can be said is that one can hear all of the instruments. The performances, however, particularly as delineated in the three different versions of the cut "Move," are stellar. They are inspired, furious, and cutting. Rollins outdoes himself in the June performance of the cut, and the latter band transforms it entirely. For the record, it is the only duplicate selection. Also, the live version of "Tempus Fugit," with its knotty head and punched-up rhythm, is revelatory in the manner of arrangement for those days and points a solid direction for the immediate future -- check the tempos and structure of the solo breaks on the September session for evidence. While this set is exclusively for those Miles fans who have to have absolutely everything, it is nonetheless worth it for those who have the bootlegs because of the heightened fidelity and the new session.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/27/2004
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0724354177927
catalogNumber:
41779

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