Miles Ahead session details

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January 30, 1953 (4 items; TT = 26:01)
WOR Studios, New York NY
Commercial for Prestige
Miles Davis Sextet

Miles Davis (tpt); Sonny Rollins (ts); Charlie Parker (ts); Walter Bishop, Jr. (p); Percy Heath (b); Philly Joe Jones (d)

1 Compulsion (M. Davis) 5:43
2 The Serpent's Tooth (take 1) (M. Davis) 6:59
3 The Serpent's Tooth (take 2) (M. Davis) 6:16
4 'Round Midnight (B. Hanighen-C. Williams-T. Monk) 7:03


1 Compulsion
12" LP: Prestige 7044, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6526, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-071, Victor VICJ-23605, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60342, Victor VICJ-2019, Victor VICJ-41252, Victor VICJ-41509, Universal UCCO-5069, Universal UCCO-9037, Universal UCCO-9269, Columbia C2K 85475, Sony SRCS 2493/4

2 The Serpent's Tooth (take 1)
12" LP: Prestige 7044, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6526, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-071, Prestige FCD 60015, Victor VICJ-23605, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60342, Victor VICJ-2019, Victor VICJ-41252, Victor VICJ-41509, Universal UCCO-5069, Universal UCCO-9037, Universal UCCO-9269

3 The Serpent's Tooth (take 2)
12" LP: Prestige 7044, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6526, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-071, Victor VICJ-23605, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60342, Victor VICJ-2019, Victor VICJ-41252, Victor VICJ-41509, Universal UCCO-5069, Universal UCCO-9037, Universal UCCO-9269

4 'Round Midnight
12" LP: Prestige 7044, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6526, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-071, Victor VICJ-23605, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60342, Victor VICJ-2019, Victor VICJ-41252, Victor VICJ-41509, Universal UCCO-5069, Universal UCCO-9037, Universal UCCO-9269


Davis, still a heroin addict but somewhat less unreliable than in previous years, had recently been offered a new Prestige contract. Parker was under exclusive contract with Mercury Records, so he is listed as "Charlie Chan" and plays tenor alongside Rollins. Parker had recently switched from heroin to alcohol -- his trumpet player, Red Rodney, had been arrested for possession of heroin and incarcerated in federal prison. According to producer Ira Gitler, Parker consumed a fifth of gin while familiarizing himself with his new horn, and promptly fell asleep. The group was able to get through only two titles as the end of the chaotic session approached, and after several unsuccessful tries at "Well, You Needn't," managed to record one take of "'Round Midnight."

"Compulsion" is sometimes credited to Jimmy Heath. Everyone gets two choruses (is that a splice at 0:22 in the opening chorus?): Davis (0:53-1:57), Parker (1:57-3:00), Rollins (3:00-4:02), and Bishop (4:02-5:03).

The first take of "Serpent's Tooth" is slightly slower than the second. Davis solos first (4x -- there is a splice at 0:53, after the first eight measures of the solo), followed by Rollins, Parker, and Bishop (3x each). Toward the end of his solo (3:24) Rollins quotes "I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better." The second take preserves the same order of solos, but Davis takes only three choruses. He quotes "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie" at 1:20-1:30. Parker fails to come in at the end of Rollins's solo (3:11), and after a reminder by Rollins and a few measures of Bishop's comping, he plays a good solo.

Ira Gitler's liner notes suggest that Davis and Parker are the only soloists on "'Round Midnight," but this is wrong. Rollins plays the bridge (1:27-1:55) before Davis's solo; after the trumpet solo, Parker solos for two choruses (2:24-4:23), and Rollins plays the bridge after another Davis interlude (5:24-5:57). Both saxophones are audible during the out chorus.

This was Philly Joe Jones's first recording session with Davis.

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