Miles Davis – Jazz Track

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  • Davis’ superb 1959 release arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Davis partners here with jazz greats, including John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and others
  • “… it should become clear why ‘Jazz Track’ is a vital Miles album as well as a testimony to the importance of the movies to jazz–as a medium for improvised soundtracks and, more importantly, as a source of theme music potentially as rich as the music of Broadway…”
  • “It’s doubtful that “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Stella by Starlight” would have caught on without Bill [Evans’] artistry (which is not to take anything away from Red [Garland], whose ballads simply lacked the intricate, delicately shaded beauty of Bill’s pensive voicings on the slow ballads).”

We had a number of original pressings on hand, some costing a pretty penny, but this is the only one that did not have serious scratches or inner groove damage. The vinyl is not quiet, but the tics stay mainly underneath the music. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


The nine minute plus long Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price. With Stella by Starlight and Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 20 minutes of great sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

This vintage Columbia Six-Eye Mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely 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 studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog 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 maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Jazz Track 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 1959
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

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 qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

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 their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Jazz Track

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • 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 common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players (Side One)

Miles Davis – trumpet
Barney Wilen – tenor saxophone
René Urtreger – piano
Pierre Michelot – double bass
Kenny Clarke – drums

The Players (Side Two)

Miles Davis – trumpet
John Coltrane – Tenor Saxophone
Cannonball Adderley – Alto Saxophone
Bill Evans – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Jimmy Cobb – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Générique
L’Assassinat De Carala
Sur L’Autoroute
Julien Dans L’Ascenseur
Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées
Dîner Au Motel
Évasion De Julien
Visite Du Vigile
Au Bar Du Petit Bac
Chez Le Photographe Du Motel

Side Two

On Green Dolphin Street
Fran-Dance
Stella By Starlight

Amazon 5 Star Rave Review

The album was recorded in 1958, which was the year that Miles had disappointed many of his fans by replacing the highly popular Red Garland with a new, “cerebral” pianist, Bill Evans. It proved a troubled year for Bill, whose concentrated, lean lines and deliberative, clustered chord voicings confirmed in the minds of many listeners that Miles had shown poor judgment in replacing the always tuneful, happily grooving Garland with an understated and deliberative player like Bill — who, moreover, was white! (Race was still a major factor in the way the jazz public saw and evaluated musicians.)

In a group including Miles, Coltrane and Cannonball, Bill already had his work cut out for him–if only to gain adequate solo time to work out his ideas and to be heard. At the end of the year, he departed from Miles’ group to form his first piano trio. But Miles had not forgotten the pianist, whose touch was “like crystalline droplets from a cool mountain stream,” along with Bill’s crucial contributions to the largely overlooked album about music and movies. So he extended an invitation to Bill, asking him to return for one more session: 1959’s “Kind of Blue,” arguably the most successful jazz recording–commercially and artistically–in jazz history.

With the foregoing background in mind, it should become clear why “Jazz Track” is a vital Miles album as well as a testimony to the importance of the movies to jazz–as a medium for improvised soundtracks and, more importantly, as a source of theme music potentially as rich as the music of Broadway–and, finally, as one more testimony to the importance of Bill Evans. It’s doubtful that “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Stella by Starlight” would have caught on without Bill’s artistry (which is not to take anything away from Red, whose ballads simply lacked the intricate, delicately shaded beauty of Bill’s pensive voicings on the slow ballads).

In conclusion, this LP deserves a place in the collection of any vinyl collector who wishes to have a copy of two historic yet ever-fresh “late” jazz standards lifted from the movies, then transformed into a soundtrack that forever replays itself in the minds of musicians and listeners alike.

–Samuel, Amazon Reviewer
May 22, 2014

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