An Introduction to Miles Ahead

Miles Davis discography
Contains information about commercially issued recordings. It's organized chronologically. If you select a recording from the list, you get basic facts about the recording (label, dates, tunes and composers, and cover art if it's available) -- and links to more detailed information about the sessions. If you're looking for all the recordings on a particular label, try the label-by-label listing.

Miles Davis sessions list
Lists all the sessions in the Miles Ahead database, not just those available on commercially issued recordings. It's also organized chronologically. If you select a date from the list, you get details about that session (location, musicians, tunes, releases, notes, etc.)

Miles Davis query form
Allows you to search for tunes, composers, musicians, venues, cities, media, groups, or years. You can also combine fields, e.g. to find only those versions of "'Round Midnight" featuring John Coltrane, or all of the 1959 sessions in New York where the Miles Davis Quintet performed a tune composed by Gil Evans. You get a list of sessions matching your query, and from there you can get to details on each session.

Discographical details
Provides a fuller list of the various forms in which a tune has been issued. Formats include: 78 rpm, 45 rpm, 10" LP, 12" LP, CD, and video.

Charlie Parker CD discography
Provides details for some CD reissues of Charlie Parker. It too is organized chronologically. Since so many of Bird's recordings are compilations which combine recordings from several different dates, this may not be so useful. To see the recordings grouped by label, try the label-by-label listing.

Charlie Parker sessions list
Organized chronologically, and lists all the Bird sessions in the Miles Ahead database. If you select a date from the list, you get details about that session (location, musicians, tunes, releases, etc.).

Charlie Parker query form
Allows you to search for tunes, composers, musicians, venues, cities, media, groups, or years. Again, you can combine various parameters, e.g. to find all of the versions of "52nd Street Theme" with Tadd Dameron. As with the Miles version, you get a list of sessions matching your query, and from there you can get to details on each session.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you decide the "decade" of a record or CD when it includes sessions from more than one decade?

    Previously I listed the record only in the decade of the earliest recording -- so a record like Sketches of Spain, which includes sessions from 1959 and 1960, would appear only in the list of 1950s records. This has been changed. A record that includes sessions from more than one decade now appears in each of the decades -- so Sketches of Spain appears near the end of the list of 1950s records and also in the list of 1960s records. This means that many records (especially compilations) will be listed multiple times, but you will be able to find them based on the decade of any of the sessions included, not just the earliest.

  2. What happened to the information about the Miles-L discussion group?

    The Miles-L listserv no longer exists. It has been superseded by a Google group. Many of the members of the old Miles-L participate in a Facebook group.

  3. Why are you asking for donations?

    Since moving Miles Ahead from Access to SQL Server, the costs of maintaining the site have almost doubled. So if you're feeling generous, please read more and consider making a small donation to help pay for Miles Ahead.

  4. Why don't you list bootleg CDRs?

    Well, I did for a while, but it quickly reached a point of diminishing returns. The vast majority of CDRs (on labels like Stardust, So What, and Red Circle) are poorly produced, based on inferior masters, inaccurately labeled, and not very widely available -- and in many cases exorbitantly expensive. Even the unreleased studio sessions available on these labels (e.g. the Bitches Brew or Calypso Frelimo or He Loved Him Madly sessions on So What) are based on unknown-generation cassette reference copies of the studio reels. And since there are new CDRs coming out all the time, it was really hard to keep up. Apologies in advance to the completists out there. Please check out Klaus Werner's Kind of Blue website for a fuller list of Miles Davis bootleg CDRs.

  5. What's all this stuff about a Creative Commons License?

    The Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) represents an attempt to negotiate sensible compromises in permitting the use of various kinds of intellectual property; as they put it, "We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them -- to declare 'some rights reserved.'" This is an intriguing idea, and so I thought I'd join up. Here's why, in a nutshell. Maintaining Miles Ahead is, on and off, a lot of work. I'm happy to share the information gathered here -- with the help of many others, I'll be the first to admit -- but when it's used commercially, by producers of bootleg CDs, for example, or by people hawking their wares on eBay, I'm less happy. The terms of the Creative Commons License governing this site allow you to use the original content on this site freely so long as (1) you acknowledge where it came from; (2) you're not using it for commercial purposes; and (3) if you alter, transform, or build upon it, you distribute the resulting product only under the same terms as I've just described. That seems fair enough, doesn't it?

  6. I have one of the sessions you list, but the track list and/or the timings don't match. Why?

    Several possibilities. First, sessions that passed through many different tape decks vary a lot in duration as well as quality. Second, people sometimes excise announcements, etc., changing the overall length of tunes and sets. Digital audio editors make it easy to change recordings (remove dropouts and gaps, shorten applause, and the like). Finally, it's possible -- but not very likely -- that your version is just different than the one I've listed. For most live Davis shows there is only one master, either an audience recording or a radio broadcast. The likelihood of independent masters, especially for pre-1980s shows, is pretty low.

    As for different track lists, people mark the beginnings and endings of tunes differently -- this is especially true in the early electric period (1967-1975) when sets were performed without interruptions. For live sessions, the times I have listed generally include the applause after the performance.

  7. I have a session (or a record) that's not listed here. Can you give me details?

    Probably not. Miles Ahead is not comprehensive or complete. There are lots of live sessions and many studio recordings (mostly from 1980-1991) that aren't listed. Also, I have not tried to list every issued version of every recording, or every collection or compilation of Davis tunes. If this is what you're after, find a copy of Jan Lohmann's excellent discography, The Sound of Miles Davis (Copenhagen: JazzMedia, 1991). Klaus Werner's Kind of Blue website has a much fuller list of Miles Davis sessions from 1980-1991.

  8. Why are there so many gaps in your lists?

    Well, I don't like the post-1980 music. As a result, I don't know it well enough to be competent as a discographer, and I have not worked very hard to be systematic here. Patient and musically learned people have tried to educate me on this score, but their efforts have not met with much success. So I concentrate on the Miles Davis music I know. Apologies in advance. Other websites -- Klaus Werner's Kind of Blue, George Cole's The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis 1980-1991, and Paul Tingen's Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis 1967-1991 -- will provide much more information about the post-1980 music than you will find here.

  9. Can I buy copies of these recordings?

    Nearly all of Miles Davis's recordings for major labels (Prestige, Columbia, Warner Brothers, etc.) are readily available. Some of the live stuff has been issued either in licensed versions or on bootleg LP or CD. Many of these are out of print. Occasionally they (or CDR copies of them) show up on eBay or other internet auction sites. Some online vendors even sell CDR copies of live Davis shows, but it's good to be wary of these, since many such shows are misidentified, and many are based on poor and/or incomplete masters. And the prices are often absurdly high.

  10. No, I mean do you sell these recordings?

    No. I will trade for shows I don't have, or for better-quality masters of shows I do have. See the Live Recordings page elsewhere on this site for a list of what I have and what I'm looking for. Again, I'm not much interested in the music from the 1980s and beyond, sorry.

  11. But I don't have anything to trade. How can I get started?

    Check out the BitTorrent sites on the internet -- e.g. dimeadozen.org or Lossless Legs. There is a lot of unissued Miles Davis material available on these sites. All you need to do is create an account, install a free BitTorrent client (of which there are scores), and you're ready to go.

  12. I've found an error!

    If you see something that looks wrong, please send email to me at plosin@gmail.com. Many people have helped improve Miles Ahead by finding errors.

  13. Why do you do this?

    This site began in the early 1990s as a way to organize my collection of Miles Davis LPs, CDs, and tapes. Early on it became clear that there were many other Miles fans out there, and the site evolved into a way of sharing, and gathering, information for others as well as myself. Many people have contributed generously to Miles Ahead, so please take a look at the Credits and Acknowledgments page elsewhere on this website.

All original content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License