The Oft-Overlooked Link Between ‘Round About Midnight and Kind of Blue: Milestones Is the Only Record to Feature Miles Davis' Original Sextet with John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and More
Vanguard Sonics: Mobile Fidelity's Numbered-Edition Hybrid Mono SACD Presents the 1958 Standard in Mono Sound for the Very First Time
Miles Davis created just one studio album with his original sextet. He made every moment count. Pairing with Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones, the trumpeter not only laid the groundwork for the modalism that immediately followed but tailored a genuine modern-jazz masterwork laden with performances among the most explosive of his distinguished career. Due to its sandwiched position between the more famous ‘Round About Midnight and epochal Kind of Blue, Milestones remains, for too many music lovers, an overlooked classic.
Mastered from the original master tapes, and in mono for the first time ever, Mobile Fidelity's numbered-edition hybrid mono SACD grants each musician their own space in a well-defined, broadened soundstage. Colors, shapes, and dimensions appear in the manner they do when beheld from behind a studio-control room’s window Davis’ burnished trumpet? Rendered in three-dimensional perspective, coaxing his mates out to play with unburdened zest and commotion. Coltrane’s trademark saxophone? Witness it in life-size proportion, his solos working in tandem with and against the driving rhythms. Garland’s swaggering piano lines? Visualize the 88 keys as he hits full stride, the chords and fills slithering around skeletal frameworks.
If anything, Milestones is as famous for its title track as the players that produced it. The launching pad for many of Davis’ (and later, his contemporaries’) improvisational flights, the singular piece invites the explorations Coltrane would soon chase as well as the headliner’s argyle solo work, who broaches territories that far exceed what he had done with his bop-rooted past. Every song is a highlight, whether it’s the bravado “Dr. Jackle,” featuring a hot-foot pace and bebop strains, or “Sid’s Ahead,” which continues the album’s blues theme while tossing around edgy harmonics and inside-out structures.
Then there’s “Straight, No Chaser,” the absolutely definitive rendition of Thelonious Monk’s signature piece. Coltrane’s marbled playing pulls at the tune’s borders, Adderley takes liberty with solos, and Davis dances around his mates, at one point quoting “When the Saints Go Marching In” while demonstrating his knowledge of tradition and eye towards the future.
2. Sid’s Ahead
3. Two Bass Hit
5. Billy Boy
6. Straight, No Chaser