Miles Ahead session details

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May 14, 1963 (20 items; TT = 50:12)
Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York NY
Commercial for Columbia
Miles Davis Quintet

Miles Davis (tpt); George Coleman (ts); Herbie Hancock (p); Ron Carter (b); Tony Williams (d)

1 Seven Steps to Heaven (rehearsal) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 1:06

Carter starts off with "So Near, So Far," but after laughter Hancock plays the first few notes of "Seven Steps to Heaven." Davis (to Carter): "Let Herbie try it, man." Carter gets the notes from Hancock; Davis counts off. False start. Davis: "OK. One, two, three, four..." False start. Davis (undecipherable)
2 Seven Steps to Heaven (rehearsal take) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 7:51

As the tune ends Davis says, "That's the way it it goes, Teo."
3 Seven Steps to Heaven (remake take 1 (nc)) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 0:28

"CO 78341, remake, take one." At the breakdown Davis says, "Try it like..."
4 Seven Steps to Heaven (remake take 2 (nc)) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 0:35

"Two..."
5 Seven Steps to Heaven (remake take 3 (nc)) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 0:20

"Three..." Coleman muffs the opening theme
6 Seven Steps to Heaven (remake take 3) (V. Feldman-M. Davis) 6:32

As the tune ends Davis asks, "How's that, Teo?" (Splice.) Coleman: "Yeah. let's try it. Let me see what I got here..." Davis: "OK." Edited (2:57) on Columbia 42853
7 So Near, So Far (rehearsal take) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 7:16

Macero: "Rehearsal..." Carter starts; Davis interrupts and counts off. At the end Macero says, "We're taking..." Davis interrupts, "Hey, Teo..."
8 So Near, So Far (take 1 (nc)) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:19

"Ah, this is 'So Near, So Far', CO 78343, take one..."
9 So Near, So Far (take 2) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 7:26

"Take two..."
10 So Near, So Far (insert 1 take 1) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 0:29

"Insert one, take one..." At the end Macero says, "That seemed a little fast here, but maybe..."
11 So Near, So Far (insert 1 take 2) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 0:40

"Insert one, take two..." False start. Coleman: "...either B natural or C-sharp." Davis: "B natural." False start, then a good insert
12 So Near, So Far (insert 1 take 3) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 0:29

"One more. Insert one, take three..." At the end Davis exclaims, "No, I do that..." Coleman: "He said what?" Davis: "OK, take it again..."
13 So Near, So Far (insert 1 take 4) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 0:35

Macero: "Insert one, take four." False start, then a usable insert. At the end Macero says, "OK, we'll splice that up, ah, before..." Davis: "Right on it..."
14 So Near, So Far (insert 2 take 1) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:04

Macero: "All right, this is, um, insert two, take one..." Hancock: "The intro, too, right?" Davis: "No, right on it." Two false starts. Davis: "No, which way now, man?" They play (0:21-0:57). Davis: "George, don't play that F. No..."
15 So Near, So Far (insert 2 take 2) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:30

Macero: "Insert two, take two..." Macero: "Insert two, take two." (Someone sings.) Coleman: "There's one down there?" Davis: "Yeah, well, man, ain't you got one written there?" Hancock: "There's a G minor seventh." Davis: "Yeah." Coleman: "Say Miles, goin' out, though, we play the whole thing, on the turnback, on the second ending... But goin' out..." Macero: "This is still insert two, take two." They play (0:21-1:23). Macero: "We'll play that back..."
16 So Near, So Far (insert 2 take 3) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:06

At the end Davis says, "Hey Teo, I wanna hear that, I wanna hear how that sounds, y'know?"
17 So Near, So Far (intro take 1) (T. Crombie-B. Green) 1:32

Macero: "Oh, this is, uh, Intro, take one..." They play (0:05-1:18). At the end Davis says, "That's the first chorus..." Macero: "OK." Davis: "...you know, down to the last part, y'know, then you go to that first rehearsal take, Teo." Macero: "And then use this last, uh, take three for the ending." Davis: "Yeah."
18 Joshua (remake take 1 (fs)) (V. Feldman) 0:24

"'Joshua' remake, CO 78344, take one..." False start. Davis (sounds irritated): "EIGHT bars... One, two, three..."
19 Joshua (remake take 2 (nc)) (V. Feldman) 1:57

Davis coughs, much laughter
20 Joshua (remake take 3) (V. Feldman) 7:33

"Three..." At the end Davis says, "Play it." Macero: "OK." The issued version contains two edits: at 3:59 and 4:20 -- each removes eight bars of Coleman's solo (3:59-4:11 and 4:32-4:44 of original)


6 Seven Steps to Heaven (remake take 3)
45 rpm: Columbia 4-42853
12" LP: Columbia CL 2051 (= CS 8851), Columbia C5X 45000, Nippon Columbia YS-292, CBS/Sony SONP 50214, CBS/Sony SOPL 158, CBS/Sony 18AP 2060, CBS/Sony 23AP 2560, CBS/Sony 25AP 758, CBS/Sony 00AP 2076/81, Mosaic MQ10-226
CD: Columbia CK 48827, Columbia C4K 45000, Columbia C4K 86569, Columbia C7K 90840, Columbia CK 93592, Columbia CK 93585, Columbia CK 64616, CBS/Sony 32DP 527, Sony SRCS 5704, CBS/Sony 80DP 872/5, Sony SRCS 5691/4, CBS/Sony 80DP 5430/3, Sony SICP 5037/40, Sony SRCS 9109, Sony SRCS 9755, Sony SIGP 14, Sony SICP 620/5, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Sony SICP 853, Mega Disc Legendary 0514

7 So Near, So Far (rehearsal take)
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 620/5, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Mega Disc Legendary 0514

20 Joshua (remake take 3)
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 620/5, Sony SICP 820, Sony SICP 1209, Mega Disc Legendary 0514


The issued version of "So Near, So Far" is a composite:

Issued version Source
0:00-1:08 Intro take 1 (0:05-1:13)
1:08-5:53 middle of rehearsal take (1:19-6:04)
5:53-6:25 the first 15 measures of insert 2 take 3 (0:00-0:32)
6:25-6:58 the end of insert 2 take 2 (0:53-1:31)

The Davis Sextet must have returned to the east coast in late April or early May, Frank Butler remaining in California. They were booked for one night at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore (May 9), where the band -- "The Miles Davis Quintette" -- was listed as Davis, George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Harold Maybern [sic], Jim Cobb. I can't believe that Carter didn't play with the group, so either it was not a "quintette" or else one of the horns, probably Strozier, didn't play.

Davis fired Strozier and Mabern soon afterward, hiring Hancock and Williams; and the new Miles Davis Quintet -- Davis, Coleman, Hancock, Carter, Williams -- played this studio date, then hit the road: Jazz Villa, St. Louis (May 27-June 4); Sutherland Lounge, Chicago (June 5-16); Jazz Temple, Cleveland (June 20-23 -- listed as the Miles Davis Sextet); Village Vanguard, New York (July 2-14).

Davis must have liked the sound of this new group, since two of the titles recorded here are remakes of tunes recorded in Columbia's Hollywood studios less than a month before.

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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