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Classic Album Reviews: Miles Davis | ’Round About Midnight | Milestones | At Newport 1958 | Jazz at the Plaza | Best of Miles Davis & John Coltrane (1955-1961)

The jazz icon's early Columbia albums return with outtakes, extras & liner notes.

This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Last year’s Miles Davis / John Coltrane box set The Complete Columbia Recordings (1955-1961) — six CDs chronicling one of the most fertile and progressive musical partnerships in history — was an essential purchase for jazz buffs. That is, those who could afford it. For folks who couldn’t quite make the $150 price tag, here’s the good news: Most of the set’s high-quality, remastered fare and rare outtakes are now available on separate discs.

Ostensibly it’s all in honour of what would have been Davis’s 75th birthday, but frankly, nobody needs an excuse to reissue classic albums like these. If you dig studio Miles, go for 1955’s ’Round About Midnight or ’58’s Milestones, two flawless discs of sizzling, swinging hard-bop masterpieces like Two Bass Hit, Straight, No Chaser, Dr. Jackle and Ah-Leu-Cha, along with more sublime fare like Bye Bye Blackbird. Want to hear Miles working the crowd? Try At Newport or Jazz At The Plaza, two top-flight gigs from 1958 when Miles and Trane were at the height of their game. All of them sound wonderful, all of them have new liner notes, and all but Plaza come with outtakes and extra cuts included in the box set (although Plaza has a magical version of My Funny Valentine that more than makes up for any other omissions). Oddly, the one disc passed over in this reissue series is the duo’s undisputed masterpiece Kind of Blue. If you want to hear So What and Blue In Green — or if you just want to sample the whole Davis-Coltrane set — The Best of Miles Davis & John Coltrane (1955-1961) hits the highest points of their incredible collaboration. For music as priceless as this, you can’t beat the deal.