Miles Ahead session details

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April 16, 1963 (22 items; TT = 76:28)
Columbia Studio, Hollywood CA
Commercial for Columbia
Miles Davis Quintet

Miles Davis (tpt); George Coleman (ts); Victor Feldman (p); Ron Carter (b); Frank Butler (d)

1 Joshua (rehearsal) (V. Feldman) 7:09

Slow tempo run-through (0:00-1:27). Davis: "Hey Frank. You gotta play that beat I told you about -- you gotta play that all the way through, man." Butler: "All the way?" Davis: "Just swing it right on through." Butler: "All right." Unknown: "Fuck what he's doing." Davis: "I don't. Come on... Hey Victor, how d'you end this damn thing?" Davis and Feldman play. Feldman: "At which bar?" Davis: "Come on, man. You gonna play all those notes, Vic." Count off. Another slow tempo run-through (2:37-4:06). Coleman: "You're supposed to leave the last eight out." Davis: "What d'ya mean, the last eight?" They play (4:17-5:48). Butler: "My fault. There's no break in the solos?" Feldman: "No." Butler: "And the bridge?" Feldman: "No." Davis: "Hey, Vic -- hey Vic, I don't know if I can make that note in tune up there, man, it just sounds funny to me." Feldman: "Wanna try it again at the same point? One, two, three..." They play (6:15-6:41). Feldman: "Something's missing. George, let me hear your line, the last four bars. Two, three..." They play (6:54-6:58). "Wait a minute, uh, the coda, start right on the coda..."
2 Joshua (take 1 (fs + inc)) (V. Feldman) 1:07

Macero: "This is HCO 71336, 'Joshua', take one..." Carter begins; Davis interrupts: "You know, there should be some quiet fire in that, you know what I mean, Frank? Just stay on that fuckin' cymbal." Count off. They play (0:21-1:00). Davis: "That's too fast, man. Settle on it, Frank." Butler: "Too fast?" Davis: "Yeah, just keep it right there, man."
3 Joshua (take 2 (inc)) (V. Feldman) 1:15

"Two..."
4 Joshua (rehearsal) (V. Feldman) 2:32

Davis: "You don't play that, George." Coleman: "What, this?" Davis: "We don't play none of that." Coleman: "You told me to play that, man. Remember?" Davis: "OK, OK. But look, Frank, just play straight through like you do on the first part. Don't stop swingin' on account of he's playin' free. Take it again, take it in the middle. One, two three..." They play (0:20-0:35). Butler: "You want me to play it that way, or play it the way I was?" Davis: "See how it sounds like that, in the middle. One, two three..." False start. "No, no, no, not exactly like that. Just one beat. One, two three..." They play. "You see, like that. One, two three..." They play. "You see?" They play. "Here we go. Boom, boom, bap! OK, let's go." Count off. Starts at the beginning. Davis fluffs a few notes, then interrupts. To Butler: "On that bar we played right there, play your bass drum like boom, boom, boom, bap -- you know, and make a little roll."
5 Joshua (take 4 (nc)) (V. Feldman) 3:02

"Four..." Breakdown at 2:33. Feldman: "I was just gonna take the bridge." Davis: "Hey, Teo. You got the first part, right?" Macero: "Yeah. Right." Davis: "We'll get the second part and play on the chords, and then just out on on the first part, right?" Macero: "Would you like to hear it? I think it... We could just make a... Well, let's make the insert first and then go back and listen to it." Davis: "Hey, wait a minute. Play more top cymbal. Play as loud as you wanna play, more top cymbal, right on the chords."
6 Joshua (insert 1 take 1) (V. Feldman) 1:34

Macero: "This is insert one, take one..." Davis: "Hey look, when you get ready to go out, George, make this chord to go into F Major, then he'll know when to come in. Right?" Coleman: "All right." Davis: "OK." Breakdown at 0:57. Davis: "I thought we were gonna play this chord right here, man" Feldman: "When you said to George to get ready, when you get ready, play the chord, I thought maybe you were gonna play as long as you feel like it until you make the..." Davis: "No, I'm talkin' about the G minor to the C seven." Feldman: "All right. In other words, you want me to play as it's written in other words, repeats, and then make that change the second time as we're going into the bridge." Davis: "Yeah, I mean, uh, whoever's playing will play that change, just to go into the bridge, you know what I mean?" Feldman: "Except you..." Davis: "I'll play it. If you play it..." Feldman: "OK."
7 Joshua (insert 1 take 2) (V. Feldman) 0:59

"All right, here we go, this is insert one, take two..." Breakdown. Feldman: "I'm playin' it all wrong. Start it again, I know what I'm doin'."
8 Joshua (insert 1 take 3) (V. Feldman) 1:04

"Insert one, take three." False start; breakdown at 0:56. Davis: "Look, George, I might play four or five choruses man, but don't..." (Cut off)
9 Joshua (insert 1 take 4) (V. Feldman) 0:48

"Ah, this is insert one, take four." Coleman: "...he breathes, do not come in. And then after I've played two, I'll play the A minor to B..." Feldman: "OK, so I've got one bar..." Coleman: "...and G minor to C." Breakdwn at 0:42. Butler: "Can't play my own tune." Laughter. Davis: "Come on, man..."
10 Joshua (insert 1 take 5) (V. Feldman) 2:35

"Insert one, take five..." Breakdown at 2:09. Davis: "That sounds funny, man. Shit! Don't play that chord, leave them two chords out of there." Feldman: "Which two chords?" Davis: "The G minor to C seven. It sounds funny... (Feldman plays changes.) Well look, Vic, whatever you do, man, play on the beat."
11 Joshua (insert 1 take 6) (V. Feldman) 5:12

"This is insert one, take six..." Take ends with Davis coughing
12 Joshua (insert 1 take 7) (V. Feldman) 1:30

"Here y'go, this is take..., take five [sic]." Davis: "Hey, Teo!" Macero: "Yeah." Davis: "I'm gonna try another tempo, man, 'cause it dies in certain spots, y'know?" Macero: "OK. A little faster? All right, stand by, please. Still take five [sic]..." Davis counts off. Short take (0:58). Afterward Davis says, "That's a better tempo, don't you think, Teo?" Macero: "It feels much better." Davis: "To YOU?" Macero: "No, to Irving." Davis: "Oh." Macero (laughing): "Stand by..."
13 Joshua (insert 1 take 8) (V. Feldman) 0:13

"Take six [sic]..." Breakdown at 0:10. Davis: "Try the middle. Right on the middle..."
14 Joshua (insert 2 take 1 + rehearsal) (V. Feldman) 2:17

"Insert one, take one..." A couple false starts; they play (0:00-0:59). Davis: "Start right on your middle, Vic. One, two, three..." They play (1:04-2:14). Davis: "Hold it. This is the insert, Teo, on the last chorus." Macero: "Right, stand by..."
15 Joshua (insert 2 take 1) (V. Feldman) 0:29

"Insert for the last chorus, take one..." False start. Butler: "...right on the bridge, right on it..." At the breakdown Davis says, "Come on, George, come on..."
16 Joshua (insert 2 take 2) (V. Feldman) 6:02

Macero: "Insert one, take two." Coleman: "What are we doin' now?" Davis: "We're playin' the whole chorus down, man, and makin' the ending." Coleman: "The second ending to the coda?" Davis: "No, we're not gonna play the second ending. We're playin' the first ending, and then we..." Feldman: "We play the bridge, too." Davis: "And we gonna play the bridge..." Feldman: "We go twice through the bridge, and then the coda, at the end of the bridge, the coda." Coleman: "First, second ending, you play the bridge, we come in on the last two bars of the bridge and go to the chorus." Feldman: "Right." Coleman: "All right." Count off. Brief false start. Davis: "Piece that together, Teo?" Count off. They play (0:37-5:59). There is a clumsy edit at 1:23, where a three-beat piano/bass unison closing phrase is missing. Listed as "take 4/6" on Mosaic and Columbia/Sony
17 I Fall in Love Too Easily (take 2) (S. Cahn-J. Styne) 6:46

Coleman out
18 Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? (take 1) (C. Warfield-C. Williams) 8:26

Coleman out
19 So Near, So Far (rehearsal) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 5:33

Davis: "Why does the bass sound like it's ringin', man? I mean, all the notes are runnin' together." Macero: "The bass fiddle?" Davis: "Yeah. Ron got about five degrees, you know." Macero: "Out there, or in here?" Davis: "Out here." Macero: "Jesus, I don't know. We'll come out and take a listen." Davis: "OK." Coleman: "Sounds all right..." They play (0:21-0:35). Coleman: "That other bar, I know it." Feldman playing chords. Davis: "Hey, Vic." Feldman: "Yeah?" Davis: "When uh, when he plays a fill-in, don't you play that note again. Here we go..." They play (1:00-4:51). Davis: "What was happenin' there, man?" Feldman: "We had another ways to go yet before we get to the bridge." Coleman: "Well, we had sixteen..." Feldman: "You came in on the last..." Coleman: "Yeah, I had another eight bars." Feldman: "Sixteen to play." Butler: "Yeah, sixteen." Davis: "Ahhhhhh." Coleman: "I'll nod my head when it's your time to play." Davis: "Ohhhh, that's wicked, [undecipherable], right?" Much laughter. Davis: "Why do you finish it out -- oh, Don (?), you finish it out with the coda, right?" Unknown: "No..." Davis: "Play the change in the coda, right?" Feldman: "No, you play the first sixteen, then after, play another sixteen..." Coleman: "After we go into the bridge, you play one more sixteen." Butler: "Play one more, see, the first sixteen, then you start right on the top." Coleman: "Yeah, the first sixteen, then you start right from the top. So it's kinda strange, 'cause the last sixteen..." (Cut off)
20 So Near, So Far (take 7) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:18

Macero: "Uh, take seven." Various noodling, then Coleman: "This is the break, too." Davis: "Get that shit together back there. And Frank, don't put so much space in your stroke, man." Coleman: "I'm just gonna take one on this." Butler: "Whch one? You mean tighten it up on the cymbal?" Davis: "I told you that motherfucker was... Yeah!" Noodling. Davis: "OK, here we go." Coleman: "If I feel like it, I'll just nod my head." Davis: "You'll nod you motherfuckin' head? How the fuck am I gonna see your big-ass head, man? If you feel like it -- I gotta wait and see if you feel like stuff, right George? Is that method thinkin'? Here we go... OK." Coleman: "A whole lotta nerve to talk to a white guy..." Davis: "Man, fuck you, man, you ain't back in New York! Sheeit. Here y'go... Look here, Vic... OK, I'll play that."
21 So Near, So Far (take 9) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 6:08

Macero: "Take eight." Davis: "No, you take eight." (Splice -- take 8 missing?) Davis: "That's the way it goes. Play it, Teo." Macero: "OK, yeah." They play (0:10-5:19). Davis: "You gonna take the first chorus..." Macero (with Irving Townsend talking at the same time): "Yeah, we're taping." Davis: "You're doin' what?" Macero (with Townsend talking at the same time): "We're rolling." (Laughter.) Davis: "This is Hollywood, right?" Townsend: "This is Hollywood calling, yes." Davis: "The home capital of the fucking world, right?" Townsend: "Right." Davis: "Longest day for colored folks, right? None! They musta went in first. (To the band:) They oughta see that I'm drug than a motherfucker..." Townsend: "You're prejudiced." Davis: "No I'm not -- you are, for thinkin' I am." Macero: "You know, we have a new postmaster here." Davis (laughing): "Must be Lenny Bruce." Much laughter. Davis: "Come on, man. Frank?"
22 Basin Street Blues (take 1) (S. Williams) 10:29

Coleman out


16 Joshua (insert 2 take 2)
12" LP: Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia C7K 90840, Sony SICP 620/5, Mega Disc Legendary 041617

17 I Fall in Love Too Easily (take 2)
12" LP: Columbia CL 2051 (= CS 8851), Nippon Columbia YS-292, CBS/Sony SONP 50214, CBS/Sony SOPL 158, CBS/Sony 18AP 2060, CBS/Sony 23AP 2560, CBS/Sony 25AP 758, Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia CK 48827, Columbia C7K 90840, Columbia CK 93592, Columbia CK 93585, CBS/Sony 32DP 527, Sony SRCS 5704, Sony SRCS 9109, Sony SRCS 9755, Sony SIGP 14, Sony SICP 620/5, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Sony SICP 853

18 Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? (take 1)
12" LP: Columbia CL 2051 (= CS 8851), Nippon Columbia YS-292, CBS/Sony SONP 50214, CBS/Sony SOPL 158, CBS/Sony 18AP 2060, CBS/Sony 23AP 2560, CBS/Sony 25AP 758, Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia CK 48827, Columbia C7K 90840, Columbia CK 93592, CBS/Sony 32DP 527, Sony SRCS 5704, Sony SRCS 9109, Sony SRCS 9755, Sony SIGP 14, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Sony SICP 620/5

21 So Near, So Far (take 9)
12" LP: Columbia KC2 36474, CBS/Sony 38AP 2017/8, Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia C7K 90840, CBS/Sony CSCS 5135/6, Sony SRCS 9310/1, Sony SRCS 9761/2, Sony SICP 620/5, Mega Disc Legendary 041617

22 Basin Street Blues (take 1)
12" LP: Columbia CL 2051 (= CS 8851), Nippon Columbia YS-292, CBS/Sony SONP 50214, CBS/Sony SOPL 158, CBS/Sony 18AP 2060, CBS/Sony 23AP 2560, CBS/Sony 25AP 758, Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia CK 48827, Columbia C7K 90840, Columbia CK 93592, Columbia CK 61405, Columbia CK 65038, CBS/Sony 32DP 527, Sony SRCS 5704, Sony SRCS 9109, Sony SRCS 9755, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Sony SIGP 14, Sony SICP 620/5


At the beginning of 1963, Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb quit the Davis Quintet and formed the Wynton Kelly Trio. The trio, billed as "3 Sidemen of the Miles Davis Quintet," was booked for three nights (January 31-February 2) at Montreal's La TĂȘte de L'Art club. Davis had to scramble to replace them -- and was sued at least once during this period for breach of contract for missing gigs. He was booked for two weeks (January 30-February 10) at Chicago's Sutherland Lounge; a February 15-23 stint at Gino's in St. Louis was cancelled. He hired Frank Strozier and Harold Mabern, enticed Ron Carter away from Art Farmer, and added George Coleman as a third solo voice. The group traveled to San Francisco for a stay at the Blackhawk Supper Club (March 5-17), and then to Los Angeles (Shelly's Manne-Hole, April 5-14). For the California shows Davis hired Frank Butler. It was during this period, without Strozier and with Victor Feldman replacing Mabern, that Davis took his group into Columbia's Hollywood Studio. Coleman lays out except on "Joshua" and "So Near, So Far." The latter tune was not released until Directions (1981). Both tunes were re-done with a different rhythm section after Davis returned to New York in May.

Much of this material has been issued on The Sessions of Seven Steps (Mega Disc Legendary 041617 and 0514).

I'm grateful for Tommaso Urbano for help with this session.

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