like he was on some kind of mission. He used to tell me that he had messed up enough, had wasted too much time and not given enough attention to his own personal life, his family, and, most of all, to his playing. So he was only really concerned about playing his music and growing as a musician. That’s all he thought about.”

(Miles Davis on John Coltrane)

Not for the last time, Miles’s off-stage problems with drugs saw him take an enforced lay-off from the music in the early 19505, but he returned triumphantly with a new group in 1954, the beginning of arguably his most fruitful half-decade. ’Round About Midnight (CBS), recorded in 1955 and 1956, is typical of the sustained invention and sheer brilliance of that group, with Miles, by now playing with his distinctive Harmon mute, an understated foil for John Coltrane’s awesome flights. With Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, the band also recorded four albums for Prestige (Steamin ’, Cookin’, Workin’, Relaxin’ ) in 1956, all classics. ’Round About Midnight was his first album for CBS, marking an important move to a major label.

When 1 tell people that I missed what I was trying to do on Kind of Blue, that I missed getting the / I k ’11:; exactsound of the African finger piano up in that p ,, .l y‘ sound, theyjust look atme like I’m crazy. ii ' ' ,, * '~ Everyone said that record was a masterpiece— and '32 I loved it too and so they just feel I ’m trying to put gum; A h I 5 1%., them on. Butthat 5 what] was trying to do on most ..; (2:235. I”). ,/.p.‘,..";i‘.‘aa ,3», - ., 7 '. " ' “gigging”,,i,,,§g% (I I, a g, ’_ of that album, particularly on All Blues and ‘So , .. ., .. . .. . . . p, ,, . , -, . .. ., What . [justmzssed 3! (Miles Davis on Kind of Blue)

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1959 was something of an annus mirabilis even by Miles’ standards. Kind ofBlue (CBS) was the first of two epochal recordings, featuring his regular group (which now included alto saxman Cannonball Adderley, but not Garland) plus pianist Bill Evans (new man Wynton Kelly is on one cut only). Miles had been influenced by George Russell’s ideas on modal music as far back as the 1940s, but this consummate masterpiece, once of the most influential jazz albums ever, represents his triumph over the form begun in Milestones the year before. The open, scale-based progressions were in stark contrast to the frantic chord-based bop style of the period; to hear the difference, compare this with John Coltrane’s chord-dense Giant Steps from the same year. Kind ofBlue has probably turned more people onto jazz than any other record over the years.

Gil was the type of guy who would spend two weeks writing eight bars of music perfectly. He’d go over it and over it and over it. Then he’d come back to it again and again and again. A lot of times I had to be standing over him and just take the shit from him because he’d be so long in making up his mind about putting some music in or taking some

out. 3’ (Miles Davis on Gil Evans)

Later that year, Miles recorded the third ofhis albums with a jazz orchestra under the direction of Gil Evans, following Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess. Sketches ofSpain (CBS), which included an arrangement of Rodrigo’s ‘Concerto de Aranjuez’, is the most popular, and the most classically-influenced, ofthe three. Evans’ imaginative arrangements ensured a constantly absorbing musical backdrop for Miles to soar


The List 29June— 12July 199013