Miles Davis: Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

The Songs:

  1. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
  2. Salt Peanuts
  3. Something I Dreamed Last Night
  4. Diane
  5. Well, You Needn’t
  6. When I Fall In Love

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
  • Red Garland – piano
  • Paul Chambers – bass
  • Philly Joe Jones – drums

In 1955, Miles Davis signed a contract with Columbia Records, which would be his label for the next 30 years and produce some of his most significant albums, including Sketches Of Spain, Kind Of Blue, Miles Smiles, and Bitches Brew. However, he was still under contract to the Prestige label when he made the deal with Columbia. In order to fulfill his Prestige contract, Miles took his quintet into the studio for two marathon sessions in May and October of 1956, which resulted in 4 albums, Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’. With the exception of Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” which was recorded in the October session, the rest of Steamin’ came from the earlier May date. However, the album was not released until 1961. Due to this lag time, Miles’ newer Columbia recordings, such as Kind Of Blue, featured better studio production and stylistic advances through the use of modal playing. As a result, when Steamin’ was finally heard by the public, it sounded a little more old-fashioned and has been somewhat overlooked.

Nevertheless, Steamin’ shows the quintet at the height of their time together. Coltrane was continuing to develop his revolutionary playing style and Philly Joe Jones’ powerful drumming propelled the band through a set of show tunes, jazz standards, and ballads. Miles’ own playing was inspired and confident, while his romantic ballad playing never sounded better than on the last cut, “When I Fall In Love”. Steamin’ was a fitting finale for Miles’ Prestige tenure and an important addition to his body of work. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Farah Jasmine Griffin & Salim Washington. Clawing At The Limits Of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, And The Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever.

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