Miles Ahead session details

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November 17, 1955 (4 items; TT = 9:47)
Hudson Theatre, New York NY
NBC-TV broadcast (B-)
Miles Davis Quintet

Miles Davis (tpt); John Coltrane (ts); William "Red" Garland (p); Paul Chambers (b); Philly Joe Jones (d); Steve Allen (ann)

1 Introduction (Steve Allen) 1:51

Because there's a wee bonnie chap named Miles McDavis who's McGoing to McGroove it up for you here... Some of you people watching now don't know who Miles Davis is. Some of you don't know who I am, or who anybody is, so that's all right. Not important in itself, but I'll tell you -- Miles Davis is considered by quite a few authorities to be just about the best trumpet player playing today. For you record fans, as we are accustomed to do here, I'll show you one of the covers, one of Miles' latest albums. This one's called The Musings of Miles. You'll find Miles on the trumpet, Red Garland at the piano, Philly Joe Jones on the drums, Paul Chambers playing, ah, tenor... ah no, on the bass -- well, we'll straighten out the names in just a few moments. The fellas appear tonight through the courtesy of, ah, Birdla..., wait a minute here now, I'll get this straight -- Basin Street: B - A - S - I - N - S - T - R - E - E - T, Basin Street. And, uh, this is very modern music. Some of you folks who are Guy Lombardo fans will be very puzzled by the first number you hear. I will pause only to say that that they are not, as your grandmother might tell you, "just blowing a lot of notes." I'm serious about this -- every note has a precise musical meaning and, uh, you could prove it with mathematics if need be. Uh, as this type of music goes, you will hear none better. Let's welcome, therefore -- John Coltrane, incidentally, is playing the sax -- let's welcome the Miles Davis Quintet. Here they are... (Yadeon includes the last 0:10.)
2 Max is Making Wax (O. Pettiford) 3:02
3 Introduction (Steve Allen) 2:03

Allen: "That's beautiful. Pardon me for chewing, but, uh, I have something in my mouth, and if I just let it hang there it'll be ridiculous. Oh excuse me. Were you here when I got this, Miles? If not, you must be rather puzzled. (Laughter.) We just had Miss Scotland on and she laid this on me. Miles, what's your home town?" Davis (coughs): "St. Louis." Allen: "Hmm?" Davis: "St. Louis." Allen: "Got a cold?" Davis: "No, I had an operation on my throat." Allen: "Oh really? Oh, that's too bad, I didn't know about that. Well then, we won't put you through the trouble of a lengthy interview here. You'd probably just rather save your breath to blow a little bit more, and the folks I'm sure would be very anxious to hear you. Miles, I have a little surprise for you right now. I was explaining to a lot of our viewers just the other night the great importance of the publication Down Beat to those who are interested in popular and jazz music. And once a year the editors and readers of Down Beat sort of put their heads together and, uh, take a poll as to just who is doing the best work in the various corners of the field of jazz. And, uh, it gives me great pleasure, as the saying goes -- and indeed it does -- to present the plaque to Miles Davis for winning first place in the trumpet division in the Down Beat award for 1955... (Applause.) Uh, as I was saying earlier, and Miles a lot of folks who probably like Guy Lombardo, as a great many of us do for that matter, might have been puzzled by what you just played. What was the name of it? Davis: "'Max is Makin' Wax'."" Allen: "'Max is Makin' Wax'... That doesn't clear up a great deal, but at least now you know what you didn't know about. Ah, however, now as a kind of a little exercise, uh, to see how clearly you can follow the chord changes, uh, whaddya say we take something slow and old and familiar like 'It Never Entered My Mind' and, uh, you wanna play it fairly straight for the first few bars just to tease them into thinking they know what's going to happen, and then, then be my guest. Here it is..."
4 It Never Entered My Mind (R. Rodgers-L. Hart) 2:51


1 Introduction (Steve Allen)
CD: Prestige PRCD4-4444, Yadeon 502

2 Max is Making Wax
CD: Prestige PRCD4-4444, Yadeon 502, Lone Hill Jazz LHJ-10206

3 Introduction (Steve Allen)
CD: Prestige PRCD4-4444

4 It Never Entered My Mind
CD: Prestige PRCD4-4444, Yadeon 502, Lone Hill Jazz LHJ-10206


The Davis Quintet was the musical guest on the November 17th Tonight Show with Steve Allen. At this point in time the show was broadcast from the Hudson Theater on the west side of Broadway. During this time the Quintet was booked at the Basin Street Club for two nights, November 18-19 (Saturday-Sunday). So my guess is that the correct date and venue for this music is November 17, 1955, Hudson Theater, New York.

Coltrane joined the Davis Quintet in late September at the Club Las Vegas in Baltimore. For the rest of the year they were quite busy: Club Las Vegas, Baltimore; (September 27-October 2); Blue Bird Inn, Detroit (possibly October 4-9); Birdland, New York (October 13-16); Carnegie Hall, New York (Saturday, October 15, 8:30pm); Andy's Log Cabin, Gloucester Heights, NJ (October 17); Jazzarama, Boston (October 27-November 6); Cotton Club, Cleveland (November 7-13); Hudson Theatre, New York (Tonight Show, November 17); Basin Street, New York (November 18-19); Olivia's Patio Lounge, Washington DC (November 21-26); Blue Note, Philadelphia (December 5-10); Birdland Show Lounge, Chicago (December 21-January 1, 1956).

According to Lewis Porter and Steve Allen, the videotape of this broadcast was destroyed by NBC, so only the audio survives. Thanks to Chris DeVito for his careful research here.

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