Miles Ahead session details

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March 6, 1954 (6 items; TT = 26:06)
Rudy van Gelder Studio, Hackensack NJ
Commercial for Blue Note
Miles Davis Quartet

Miles Davis (tpt); Horace Silver (p); Percy Heath (b); Art Blakey (d)

1 Take Off (take 3) [Conception] (M. Davis) 3:37
2 Lazy Susan (take ?) (M. Davis) 4:00
3 The Leap (take ?) (M. Davis) 4:28
4 Well, You Needn't (take ?) (T. Monk) 5:20
5 Weirdo (take ?) [Sid's Ahead] (M. Davis) 4:41
6 It Never Entered My Mind (take 1) (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 4:00


1 Take Off (take 3)
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429

2 Lazy Susan (take ?)
45 rpm: Blue Note BN 1649
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429

3 The Leap (take ?)
45 rpm: Blue Note BN 1650
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429

4 Well, You Needn't (take ?)
45 rpm: Blue Note BN 1633
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429, Toshiba TOCJ-6325

5 Weirdo (take ?)
45 rpm: Blue Note BN 1650
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Blue Note CDP 36633, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429, Toshiba TOCJ-6325

6 It Never Entered My Mind (take 1)
10" LP: Blue Note BLP 5040, Classic Records ABNC 5040C (33/45 rpm), Toshiba TOJJ-5040
12" LP: Blue Note BLP 1502 (BST 81502), Toshiba NR 8831 (LP)
CD: Blue Note CDP 81502, Blue Note 32610, Blue Note CDP 36633, Toshiba CJ28 5111, Toshiba TOCJ-5659/60, Toshiba TOCJ-9023, Toshiba TOCJ-66111/2, Toshiba TOCJ-6429, Toshiba TOCJ-6325


This is Davis's first recording session since returning from a several-month stay in the Midwest during which he finally overcame his heroin addiction. In the remaining months of the year he made some of the most memorable recordings of his career. And while the tunes performed here do not compare to the likes of "Solar," "Walkin'," or "Bags' Groove," they reveal a Davis well on the way toward his mature style and command of his instrument. This is also Davis's first collaboration with Horace Silver, who was to participate in several of the landmark Prestige sessions later this year. This same quartet recorded for Prestige on March 15.

"Take Off" uses the same chord changes as "Deception" and "Conception" from 1950-1951. There's no real melody here, but the repeated suspended-rhythm passages during the changes are effective and memorable. Davis takes two choruses, followed by Heath and Silver (Silver enters after the first eight); Davis returns for two more at the end.

"Lazy Susan" is based on the changes of Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird," which Davis had used as the basis of "Half Nelson" for his first session as a leader in August 1947, and which he performed with Dameron several times in 1949. Davis takes two choruses, Silver one, followed by one of eight-measure trumpet/drums exchanges, and Davis takes it out.

"The Leap" is based on the changes of "Get Happy," but this tune adds a sixteen-measure suspension that overlaps the first eight bars of the next chorus. The structure is unusual but Davis and Silver both navigate it without difficulty. The solos are by Davis (0:41-1:36), followed by the eight-bar suspension; Silver (1:50-2:44), followed by the suspension; and Davis returns for the closing chorus. There is a splice at 1:16 during Davis's solo. Early on he quotes Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" (0:21-0:25); Silver returns to that theme twice during his solo (listen at 1:52 and 2:05).

Davis performed Monk's "Well, You Needn't" many times in the 1950s -- perhaps the canonical version is the one recorded by the Quintet for Prestige in October 1956. Here it is taken at an usually slow tempo. Davis takes two choruses, Silver one (sounding very Monkish); Davis and Blakey play a half-chorus of eight-measure trumpet/drums exchanges, and Davis plays the remainder of the closing chorus.

Davis would return to the theme of "Weirdo" later under the title "Sid's Ahead." Both versions -- and also "Walkin'," credited to Richard Carpenter, which Davis would record for Prestige in 1954 -- are based on "Gravy," recorded by Gene Ammons in 1950. This an abstracted blues in F, with altered changes and masterful solos by Davis (2x), Silver (1x), and Davis again (1x) before the closing theme is re-stated.

This is Davis's earliest recording of "It Never Entered My Mind," a ballad he would perform many times throughout the 1950s, including the definitive version recorded for Prestige in May 1956. Here he plays with a cup mute, and the sound is less intimate than what he achieved with the Harmon mute he discovered soon afterward and introduced on "Oleo" recorded for Prestige in June. His solo is pretty, and Silver takes a short turn before Davis returns to re-state the melody.

Later in March, Davis participated in a Charles Mingus-led Jazz Workshop at Tony's Club Grandean in Brooklyn; he was joined by Gigi Gryce, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach. Davis and Monk got into several altercations, and from then on the two were often at odds.

Thanks to Bruno Leicht for helpful comments on this session.

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