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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Desert Isle Pick 4

The albums containing the 12/24/1954 session; Bag's Groove & Modern Jazz Giants.

Desert Isle Pick #4 is actually a session, not a release:

What, I can't do that!? Well, anyway; the setting is Christmas Eve Day. It was a busy & important holiday season
at the Rudy Van Gelder studio in Hackensack, NJ. The day before, the Modern Jazz Quartet were there laying down "Django, "Milano" and "One Bass Hit". Milt Jackson, Percy Heath & Kenny Clarke would come back the next day to join with Miles and Thelonious Monk to form Mile's "Modern Jazz Giants". It was a Friday, and all was not well.

Miles had told Monk to lay off playing while Miles soloed (not an unreasonable request, considering Monk's severely angular, boisterous comping style). Monk was offended, and proceeded to vibe out the session with remarks and attitude (audible on take 1 of "The Man I Love"'s intro). 

It was a long day of rehearsing, and by evening, "not much had been accomplished". Nonetheless, the evening's session resulted in some of the most striking jazz of the mid 50's, with a mood unique to Mile's output. As always - profound, dark & swinging, but with an exceptionally dreamy mood, almost spooky at times; both dense in emotion, and sparse in atmosphere. Most critics agree the tensions between the 2 "Giants" contributed masterfully to the end product; but kudos also belong to Van Gelder, who achieved one of his best mixes, and knew how to capture the singular mood intuitively. Whatever the reasons - we wind up with the only versions you'll ever need of "The Man I Love" (instrumentally, at least) and "Bag's Groove". Arguably Jackson's best session of the '50s, it's a tour-DE-force of how to leave melodic impressions on the listener while burning up the aluminum.

The cd & 12" versions of these albums, particularly "Bag's Groove", are, of course, not how they originally appeared (the Sonny Rollins tracks, though fine, are completely alien in mood and texture to these excursions). You can make your own playlists to recreate the 10" platters that delighted fans in 1955 with the tracklists below. Included are links to the spectacular covers - why Prestige abandoned these is certainly a quandry!

Thanks for stopping by! - DJ Kendo

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. I
Prestige LP 196
(links to the gorgeous cover and original liner notes on plosin.com)

          Side A: Bag's Groove
          Side B: Swing Spring

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. II
Prestige LP 200
(links to similar cover and identical liner notes on plosin.com)

          Side A: Bemsha Swing
          Side B: The Man I Love

(of course this leaves one wondering what to do with the fabulous alternate takes, one option is to make a playlist out of all your Miles alt takes!)

And just for the heck of it; here's the original tracklist for the earlier sessions with Sonny Rollins included on "Bag's Groove".

Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins
Prestige LP 187
(link to cover & liner notes on plosin.com)

Side A:
          1. Airegin
          2. Oleo

Side B:
          1. But Not For Me
          2. Doxy

amazon links to cd versions of these recordings:

for the serious collector - Some ebay Miles 10" & 7" vinyl!

"Walkin' Pts I & II" - 45rpm - Ebay link

Miles Davis All Stars Vol. II - 10" - Ebay link
Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins - 10" - Ebay link

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