Miles Ahead session details

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May 19, 1953 (4 items; TT = 14:47)
WOR Studios, New York NY
Commercial for Prestige
Miles Davis Quintet

Miles Davis (tpt); John Lewis (p); Charles Mingus (p); Percy Heath (b); Max Roach (d)

1 When Lights Are Low (B. Carter-C. Williams) 3:24
2 Tune Up (M. Davis) 3:52
3 Miles Ahead (M. Davis-G. Evans) 4:27
4 Smooch (M. Davis-C. Mingus) 3:04

Mingus replaces Lewis on piano


1 When Lights Are Low
78 rpm: Prestige 902
45 rpm: Prestige PREP 1326 [EP]
10" LP: Prestige PRLP 161, Prestige PRS-36009-1
12" LP: Prestige 7054, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6527, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-093, Victor VICJ-23606, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60441, Victor VICJ-2024, Victor VICJ-41155, Universal UCCO-9094, Universal UCCO-5106

2 Tune Up
78 rpm: Prestige 884
45 rpm: Prestige PREP 1326 [EP]
10" LP: Prestige PRLP 161, Prestige PRS-36009-1
12" LP: Prestige 7054, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6527, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-093, Victor VICJ-23606, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60441, Victor VICJ-2024, Victor VICJ-41155, Universal UCCO-9094, Universal UCCO-5106

3 Miles Ahead
78 rpm: Prestige 902
45 rpm: Prestige PREP 1326 [EP]
10" LP: Prestige PRLP 161, Prestige PRS-36009-1
12" LP: Prestige 7054, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6527, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-093, OJC-6017, Victor VICJ-23606, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60441, Victor VICJ-2024, Victor VICJ-41155, Universal UCCO-9094, Universal UCCO-5106

4 Smooch
78 rpm: Prestige 884
45 rpm: Prestige 45-353; Prestige PREP 1326 [EP]
10" LP: Prestige PRLP 161, Prestige PRS-36009-1
12" LP: Prestige 7054, Prestige P-012 (12 LP), Victor SMJ-6527, Victor VIJ-5090/5101 (12 LP)
CD: Fantasy OJC-093, Prestige PRCD 6019, Victor VICJ-23606, Prestige 8PCD-012, Victor VICJ-40225/32, Victor VICJ-60441, Victor VICJ-2024, Victor VICJ-41155, Universal UCCO-9094, Universal UCCO-5106


This is Davis's third Prestige session of the year, and the first with a quartet. More quartet dates were to follow for Prestige and Blue Note. At the time Davis was a guest with Dizzy Gillespie at Birdland (there are recordings from May 16 and 23). There is still no working group, however; Lewis and Heath were now firmly ensconced in the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Roach occupies the drum chair here only because Kenny Clarke failed to show up. According to producer Ira Gitler, the session ran very smoothly: "Miles was in a humor to match the beautiful spring day outside, and the entire session went down in four takes."

"When Lights Are Low" contains an elegant two-chorus solo by Davis followed by a restrained chorus by Lewis. The performance here is much more restrained than the one recorded by the Davis Quintet in October 1956.

"Tune Up," also re-done in October 1956 by the Quintet, is often credited to Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, who also claimed "Four" as his. ("Tune Up" is credited to Vinson on Max Roach's Mercury LP from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, Mercury 80080.) Davis has another good two-chorus solo, followed by a Lewis chorus and a chorus of trumpet/drums eight-bar exchanges.

"Miles Ahead" -- not to be confused with the Gil Evans composition from 1957 -- is based on the changes of "Milestones," recorded for Savoy in August 1947. Two Davis choruses, one by Lewis, one chorus of Davis/Roach eights, and a closing Davis chorus.

"Smooch" features Mingus on piano, who stepped in when John Lewis was called away on an emergency; the tune is an early version of Mingus's "Weird Nightmare" and Davis is the only soloist.

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