Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants

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Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants
Studio album by Miles Davis



Label (s) Prestige Records

Format (s)


Genre (s)


running time




Bob Weinstock / Rudy Van Gelder

Studio (s)

New York City

Bags' Groove
Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants Blue Moods

Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants is a jazz album by Miles Davis , recorded on December 24, 1954 and October 26, 1956 for Prestige Records .

The album

A recording session was held on Christmas Eve 1954, led by Miles Davis. In addition to his rhythm section made up of Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke , with whom he had recorded the walkin ' session in the spring of 1954 , the owner of Prestige Records , Bob Weinstock , had hired the vibraphonist Milt Jackson and also the pianist Thelonious Monk . Three quarters of the Modern Jazz Quartet and one of the outstanding pianists of Modern Jazz recorded with him.

Miles Davis appreciated Monk's compositions (his best-known, 'Round Midnight , recorded in 1956, was later added to this album), but couldn't stand his eccentric accompaniment, as he announced on Down Beat a few months later . In Davis' opinion, Monk did not support the soloist with his apparently delayed chords, but rather confused him. Max Harrison points out that Monk and Davis pursued very different concepts not only rhythmically but also harmonically; Davis still needed a conventional companion back then.

Davis therefore insisted that Monk pause while he played the solos. Through these arguments and the rumors that there had also been violence between Miles and Monk, the session quickly became a legend: The tensions are palpable, Davis is of the opinion in his autobiography that "Monk simply couldn't accompany the wind players"; and that was especially true of the trumpeters. “To make a trumpet shine, you have to really get the rhythm section going, and that wasn't Monk's thing. (...) At the time, I wanted to give the music more breathing space - a concept that I had adopted from Ahmad Jamal ; we even recorded one of the pieces that he played a lot and that I loved, "The Man I Love". "

The music of the album

Despite the tension in the studio, the resulting music is great. At the beginning of “ The Man I Love ” Miles Davis achieved a sound that leaves no doubt that he was about to become “one of the most moving, not just one of the most important jazz musicians.” The mood of this Gershwin work is reminiscent the famous version of the Benny Goodman Quartet from 1938. Peter Wießmüller writes: “In a ballad-like introduction on the vibraphone, a musical scene is unfolded using floating clusters, into which Miles weaves imaginative theme variations. Something like an imaginary choreographic transparency arises from the punctual harmony of vibraphone and trumpet. ”In the second take of this piece, the tensions between Monk and Davis can be clearly heard; Monk loses himself on the piano during the bridge , which is followed by an angry throw in on the trumpet.

Davis' title Swing Spring may be based on a motif by Bud Powell ; it is based more on scales than on chords and in this respect already anticipates modal jazz a bit . Jackson and Monk fire each other. Davis quotes a well-known Monk phrase in his solo that the pianist takes up in his solo. According to Max Harrison, the version of “Round Midnight” contained in the album, recorded in 1956 with a completely different line-up, is ultimately “irrelevant”.

It is possible that “ Bemsha Swing ” was recorded first. In this Monk title, the composer accompanies Davis on the piano during the trumpet solo. The trumpet seems strangely immobile, and Davis's steadiness is also less good than usual on the album. Nevertheless, he ends his solo with ideas that are clearly Monk-like, which Jackson picks up after a round solo by Jackson and develops them in a remarkable way.

Edition policy

Most of the material from the Christmas session is on the album (PRLP 7150 or as a 10 "record PRLP 16-3); the two takes of" Bags' Groove "recorded at the time were released on the prestige LP of the same title ( PRLP 7109). A version of " 'Round Midnight " is from a session in 1956 when Miles Davis recorded four albums with his new quintet, including Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet , to fulfill his contract with the prestige label, before joining Columbia Records , Max Harrison makes it clear that this mixing of tracks from different recording sessions is nonsense.

The titles

  1. The Man I Love ( George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) 7:57
  2. Swing Spring (M. Davis) 10:44
  3. 'Round Midnight ( Cootie Williams , T. Monk ) 5:20
  4. Bemsha Swing (T. Monk, Denzil Best ) 9:30
  5. The Man I Love (G. Gershwin / I. Gershwin) 8:29

The occupation

on "'Round Midnight" (October 26, 1956)


  • Miles Davis: The Autobiography . Munich, Heyne, 2000
  • Max Harrison , Eric Thacker, Stuart Nicholson : The Essential Jazz Records: Modernism to Postmodernism , London, New York, Mansell 2000, ISBN 0720118220
  • Erik Nisenson: Round About Midnight - A Portrait by Miles Davis . Vienna, Hannibal, 1985
  • Peter Wießmüller: Miles Davis - his life, his music, his records . Gauting, Oreos (Collection Jazz), approx. 1985

Web links


  1. See Nat Hentoff: Miles. A Trumpeter in the Midst of a Big Comeback Makes a Very Frank Appraisal of Today's Jazz Scene , in: Down Beat: 60 Years of Jazz Milwaukee 1995 (Hal Leonard Corp.) [book], p. 83-85
  2. a b c d Cf. M. Harrison et al. The Essential Jazz Records , p. 83
  3. The 1954 session was Thelonious Monk's only studio encounter with Davis. Ira Gitler , who was at the session and wrote the liner notes for the album, does away with the legend of physical violence, but mentions: "The first take of" The Man I Love "has a false start caused by Monk asking when he should start playing, and an exasperated Davis telling engineer Rudy Van Gelder , "Hey Rudy, put this on the record - all of it!". "
  4. Davis restricted: "... the only brass players who made a good sound with him were John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Charlie Rouse ."
  5. ^ Miles Davis, pp. 253 f.
  6. cit. after Nisenson, p. 74 f.
  7. cit. according to Wießmüller, p. 102
  8. Nat Hentoff An Afternoon with Miles Davis , in: Jazz Review, 1/2 (December 1958)
  9. a b M. Harrison et al. The Essential Jazz Records , p. 84
  10. It was completed with the Sonny Rollins session of June 1954 ("Airegin", "Doxy", " Oleo ", "But Not For Me").
  11. ^ "'Round Midnight" was initially released on a single with "Airegin" (Prestige 45-413), cf. Miles Davis discography .