About this Recording
8.120607 - DAVIS, Miles: Early Milestones (1945-1949)
English 

MILES DAVIS Vo l .1

“Early Milestones” Original 1945-1949 Recordings

“To have experienced 52nd Street between 1945 and 1949 was like reading a textbook to he future of music. You had Coleman Hawkins and Hank Jones at one club. You had Art Tatum, Tiny Grimes, Red Allen, Dizzy, Bird, Bud Powell, Monk, all down there on that street” (not to mention) “Erroll Garner, Sid Bechet, Oran Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic” – every night Miles Davis (Autobiography)

Generally regarded as the single most innovative player of modern jazz, Miles Davis arrived on the scene as it were at the right moment. With Dizzy Gillespie (b.1917) as his mentor and early role-model and peers that included Charlie Parker (1920-1955), John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk, he swiftly became the elemental force in the jazz revolution of the 1940s. The “patriarch of progressive”, a self-styled, impenitent modernist impatient with accepted forms, he was forever blazing new trails. The quintessential “chameleon of cool” and “an hypnotic improviser”, he was simultaneously both a popular and controversial figure. As influential in his day as Ellington had been in the previous generation, his music linked “the swing era to the hip-hop and rap world.”

Born in Alton, Illinois, on 25th May, 1926, the youngest of three siblings, Miles Dewey Davis III was brought up in the middle-class suburb of East St. Louis. Encouraged at an early age by his mother Cleota to play the violin, his singular devotion to jazz first became apparent when, at thirteen, his father Miles Davis II, a successful dentist and small-holder, bought him his first trumpet. Single-mindedly, Miles applied himself to the rudiments of theory and, by gigging with local East St. Louis musicians (notably trumpeter Clark Terry and Sonny Stitt) had absorbed enough of the true St. Louis style to play professionally in bands from the age of fifteen.

He joined a local group, the Blue Devils, and when Billy Eckstine’s bop-era big-band passed through was allowed to sit in. This event sparked a phase of Gillespie idolatry while Miles’ youthful admiration also gravitated towards Harold Baker, Bobby Hackett and Freddie Webster but, as Alun Morgan observed, “the tremendous influence of Charlie Parker engulfed Miles like a tidal wave.” Indeed, as Davis himself was later to admit, “the greatest feeling I ever had in my life -with my clothes on- was when I first heard Diz and Bird together in St. Louis, back in 1944.” In September of that year, Miles the eighteenyear- old high-school graduate went to New York, officially to enrol at the Juilliard Institute of Musical Art in Manhattan but with a hidden agenda to seek out his idol on 52nd Street … (“I spent my first week in New York and my first month’s allowance looking for him”, he proudly boasted).

The obsession paid off: he joined forces with Bird and, virtually overnight, found himself working with Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter and Eddy ‘Lockjaw’ Davis. He made his first records (for Savoy, in April 1945) with the Herbie Fields band and his first with Parker in November (in the Be Bop Boys, a sextet whose first efforts included “Thriving On A Riff” and “Billie’s Bounce”) and over the next two years, a regular feature on 52nd Street in Parker’s quintet, he quietly assimilated the bebop styles of Bird and Gillespie. By 1947, when he was awarded Esquire magazine critics’ poll, he was recording with Parker for Savoy and Dial and with the Hawkins and Jacquet big bands for Aladdin and playing in Tadd Dameron’s on radio. His first recording session featuring his own name (a quintet dubbed the Miles Davis All Stars) included the forward-looking “Sippin’ At Bell’s” and “Milestones”. He had absorbed the essence of Parker’s teachings yet remained true unto himself by the time he parted company with Bird in December 1948 and, at 23, was hailed ‘prophet of cool’ when his nonet first broadcast from the Royal Roost Club. In January 1949 he was at the helm when (at the suggestion of A&R man Pete Rugolo) cool was launched by the group which included Kai Winding (1922-1983), Lee Konitz (b.1927), Gerry Mulligan (b.1927) and Max Roach (b.1924) at the first of its three sessions for Capitol (later monumentally re-issued on LP as Birth Of The Cool, in 1957). The innovative understatement of these seminal recordings (whose overall sound has been likened to a tonal extension of Davis’s trumpet) was underpinned by the rarefied efforts of Claude Thornhill’s talented arranger Gil Evans (1912-1988), whose musical influences, far from strictly jazz-orientated, were rooted in the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. However, neither this nor the second Capitol session (April 1949) made any real impact. The critical reception was itself decidedly cool, a commercial failure after which Davis temporarily devoted his time to small-groups in and around New York. In May he made his first appearance at the Paris Jazz Festival but at home work was, at least initially, harder to find. During 1949 he performed with Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey and others but soon fell victim to heroin which would intermittently plague his career until he finally kicked the habit in 1953. Thereafter, Davis rose, phoenix-like from the ashes. In 1955 he appeared triumphantly at the Newport Festival with his new quintet. An overnight star, by 1956 (when he signed the first phase of a long-term contract with Columbia records) he had emerged finally as the dominant jazz personage of the post-war era and, notwithstanding further bouts of uncertainty and self-doubt, remained into the 1990s one of the genre’s most consistent innovators.

Miles Davis died in Santa Monica, California, on 28th September, 1991.

Peter Dempsey, 2001



1. THRIVING ON A RIFF (Charlie Parker)
The Be Bop Boys
(Savoy 945, mx SAV 5852) Recorded 26th November, 1945, New York 2:55

2. BILLIE'S BOUNCE (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker’s Re-Boppers
(Savoy 573, mx SAV 5850) Recorded 26th November, 1945, New York 3:08

3. CHERYL (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 952, mx S 3422) Recorded 8th May, 1947, New York 2:59

4. CHASIN' THE BIRD (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 977, mx S 3421) Recorded 8th May, 1947, New York 2:45

5. BUZZY (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker with Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Tommy Potter, Max Roach
(Savoy 652, mx S 3423) Recorded 8th May, 1947, New York 2:31

6. SIPPIN' AT BELL'S (Miles Davis)
Miles Davis All Stars
(Savoy 934, mx S 3443) Recorded 14th August, 1947, New York 2:24

7. MILESTONES (Miles Davis)
Miles Davis All Stars
(Savoy 934, mx S 3440) Recorded 14th August, 1947, New York 2:36

8. LITTLE WILLIE LEAPS (Miles Davis)
Miles Davis All Stars
(Savoy 977, mx S 3441) Recorded 14th August, 1947, New York 2:53

9. KLAUNSTANCE (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 967, mx D 832) Recorded 21st December, 1947, Detroit 2:43

10. BIRD GETS THE WORM (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 952, mx D 833) Recorded 21st December, 1947, Detroit 2:37

11. CONSTELLATION (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 939, mx B 902) Recorded 18th September, 1948, New York 2:28

12. AH-LEU-CHA (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 939, MX B 901) Recorded 18th September, 1948, New York 2:54

13. PERHAPS (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 938, mx B 908) Recorded 24th September, 1948, New York 2:33

14. MARMADUKE (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 938, mx B 909) Recorded 24th September, 1948, New York 2:42

15. STEEPLECHASE (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 937, mx B 910) Recorded 24th September, 1948, New York 3:04

16. MERRY-GO-ROUND (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker All Stars
(Savoy 937, mx B 911) Recorded 24th September, 1948, New York 2:26

17. BUD-O (Bud Powell–Miles Davis)
Miles Davis & His Orchestra
(Capitol 15404, mx 3398-1D) Recorded 21st January, 1949, New York 2:32

18. JERU (Gerry Mulligan)
Miles Davis & His Orchestra
(Capitol 57-60005, mx 3395-3E) Recorded 21 January, 1949, New York 3:10

19. GODCHILD (George Wallington)
Miles Davis & His Orchestra
(Capitol 57-60005, mx 3397-2E) Recorded 21st January, 1949, New York 3:08

20. MOVE (Denzil Best)
Miles Davis & His Orchestra
(Capitol 15404, mx 3396-3D) Recorded 21st January, 1949, New York 2:33


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