Miles Davis – Someday My Prince Will Come

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  • A KILLER copy of this Davis classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish. 
  • Our Hot Stamper Six Eye Stereo pressing here is Tubey Magical, full-bodied and high-rez, not to mention uncannily present – Miles is in the room with you
  • Another engineering triumph for Fred Plaut at Columbia’s legendary 30th Street Studios – the man is a genius
  • Musically this is one of our very favorite Miles Davis albums – the sound is Demo Disc Quality on the copies that sound the way this one does

We’ve found Red Label copies in the past that sound pretty darn good but this Six-Eye was a HUGE step up in class over the reissues this time around. It was not even close. This one is doing it all, with in-the-room presence, massive amounts of energy, clear, note-like bass and a rich, breathy quality to Miles’s horn that is simply not to be found on most pressings, be they originals, reissues, on Heavy Vinyl, at 45 RPM or what have you.

This original 6 Eye Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the control room hearing the master tape being played back, or, better yet, the direct feed from the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Jazz Recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

Wonderful Music and Sound

The reproduction of the trumpet on practically every track is nothing less than superb. It jumps out of the speakers front and center and forces you to listen to it, which is no doubt exactly what Miles intended.

Of course, the other giant on this record is Coltrane, who plays on two tracks. Coltrane fans will hear some prime blowing from the master here. His style is so recognizable that it’s a bit of a shock when he plays because Hank Mobley is the saxophone player on the rest of the album and he sounds completely different. It’s unusual to change sax players in the middle of an album, but it happened on this one for reasons that we don’t need to go into here.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of the orchestra having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
  • No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above

Getting the Horns Right

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack the full complement of harmonic information.

In addition, when the top end is lacking, the upper midrange and high frequencies get jammed together — the highs can’t extend up and away from the upper mids. This causes a number of much-too-common problems that we hear in the upper midrange of many of the records we play: congestion, hardness, harshness, and squawk. (Painstaking Vertical Tracking Angle adjustment is absolutely critical if you want your records to play with the least amount of these problems, a subject we discuss in the Commentary section of the site at length.)

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the ’50s and ’60s. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have little or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Full-bodied sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins at least some of the fun, certainly at the louder levels the record should be playing at.

The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).

Most records (like most audiophile stereos) are designed to sound correct at moderate levels. Not this album. It wants you to turn it up. Then, and only then, will everything sound completely right musically and tonally from top to bottom.

What We’re Listening For on Someday My Prince Will Come

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Production and Engineering

Teo Macero was the producer, Fred Plaut the engineer for these sessions that took place on various dates in March, 1961, in Columbia’s glorious sounding 30th Street Studio. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Someday My Prince Will Come 
Old Folks 
Pfrancing

Side Two

Drad-Dog 
Teo 
I Thought About You 
Blues No. 2 
Someday My Prince Will Come

AMG Review

After both John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley left Miles Davis’ quintet, he was caught in the web of seeking suitable replacements. It was a period of trial and error for him that nonetheless yielded some legendary recordings (Sketches of Spain, for one).

One of those is Someday My Prince Will Come. The lineup is Davis, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and alternating drummers Jimmy Cobb and Philly Jo Jones. The saxophonist was Hank Mobley on all but two tracks. John Coltrane returns for the title track and “Teo.”

The set opens with the title, a lilting waltz that nonetheless gets an original treatment here, despite having been recorded by Dave Brubeck. Kelly is in keen form, playing a bit sprightlier than the tempo would allow, and slips flourishes in the high register inside the melody for an “elfin” feel. Davis waxes light and lyrical with his Harmon mute, playing glissando throughout. Mobley plays a strictly journeyman solo, and then Coltrane blows the pack away with a solo so deep inside the harmony it sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else.

Mobley’s real moment on the album is on the next track, “Old Folks,” when he doesn’t have Coltrane breathing down his neck. Mobley’s soul-stationed lyricism is well-suited to his soloing here, and is for the rest of the album except, of course, on “Teo,” where Coltrane takes him out again.

This is relaxed session; there are no burning tracks here, but there is much in the way of precision playing and a fine exposition of Miles’ expansive lyricism.