Miles Davis: My Funny Valentine – Miles Davis In Concert

The Songs:

  1. My Funny Valentine
  2. All About You
  3. Stella By Starlight
  4. All Blues
  5. I Thought About You

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • George Coleman – tenor saxophone
  • Herbie Hancock – piano
  • Ron Carter – bass
  • Tony Williams – drums

The years between 1960 and 1964 found the Miles Davis Quintet in transition. His “First Great Quintet” was breaking up and the “Second Quintet” was not yet in place. Miles finally had the rhythm section he wanted in Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and the teenage Tony Williams, but the saxophone chair vacated by John Coltrane was not yet filled to Miles’ satisfaction. He had tried Jimmy Heath, Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, and then George Coleman. Avant-garde tenor saxophonist and flautist Sam Rivers would follow Coleman, until the missing piece, Wayne Shorter, finally fell into place in the fall of 1964.

 

The "Complete Seven Steps" boxset

Four & More

However, in early 1964, George Coleman was still with the band when Miles booked them to play a benefit for the NAACP at Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center, New York City. Columbia Records was on hand to record the entire concert. The recordings were resequenced and split into two albums, one of which, (Four and More), featured uptempo tracks, while the ballads were put on a separate album that became My Funny Valentine. (The song “Autumn Leaves” was left out. CBS/Sony eventually released the complete concert intact and in the original sequence in the box set, Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964.)

 

The title track of this set was one of Miles’ biggest ballad hits. The balance of the album is made up of standards, with the exception of “All Blues” from 1959’s monumental Kind of Blue. The quintet’s playing on that February night in New York was incendiary. As Miles recounts in his autobiography:

“We just blew the top off that place that night… George Coleman played better that night than I have ever heard him play. There was a lot of creative tension happening that night that the people out front didn’t know about… Plus it was a benefit and some of the guys didn’t like the fact that they weren’t getting paid… When we came out to play, everybody was madder than a mother****** with each other and so I think that anger created a fire, a tension that got into everybody’s playing, and maybe that’s one of the reasons everybody played with such intensity.”

Regardless of the reasons, the concert became a legendary event among the many landmarks of Miles’ career and remains one of his best live recorded performances. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Ron Frankl. Miles Davis.

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