Roll over late Beethoven
Stanley Nelson’s documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the cool (still on iPlayer, if you’re quick) makes a useful survey, despite this critical review (cf. Eric Nisenson’s biography Round about midnight, and Miles’s own autobiography).
Putting to one side Miles’s dubious treatment of women, much as I admire his constant urge to move forward—a bandleader, always recruiting young creative young talent—there’s always much to explore in his middle period before he gravitated to funk and rock styles. While his early work with Bird and Dizzy is amazing, here’s a little selection from the late 50s and early 60s, mainly revealing my taste for more soulful ballads.
Having featured Chet’s iconic My funny Valentine, here are three versions by Miles. First, from the 1956 Prestige sessions before he signed with Columbia, with Red Garland on piano:
From 1958, with Bill Evans—and Coltrane:
And from the 1964 live album, with Herbie Hancock on piano and George Coleman on tenor:
Just before the Kind of blue sessions Miles improvised the soundtrack to Elevator to the gallows (Louis Malle, 1958):
And here’s the title track of Someday my prince will come (1961), yet again with Coltrane, before he went on to pursue his own vision: