The Essential Miles Davis (2CD)

Sony Classical
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"At first glance, it would seem like an impossible task to summarize Miles Davis' career into a succinct double-disc set. Still, a career as multifaceted and ever-changing as Miles' winds up having a clear narrative, one that can be told by just the highlights, which is exactly what Columbia/Legacy's excellent double-disc Essential Miles Davis does.

There are certainly major pieces and recordings missing, which is a deliberate move, since the compilers have chosen no more than one track per record (with the exception of two cuts from 'Round About Midnight), so there are huge portions of Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, E.S.P., and Bitches Brew absent, and such classic albums as Milestones, Miles Smiles, In a Silent Way, and A Tribute to Jack Johnson are entirely MIA. The funny thing is, in this context, they're not missed, because what's here -- which is how this compilation should be judged -- tells the story directly yet elegantly, touching on stages of his career. That means this is cross-licensed, opening with Miles as a sideman on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time," then running through the Birth of the Cool sessions, before hitting on a selection from his lone Blue Note sessions and two cuts from his classic Prestige dates. After that come the Columbia recordings, with the Gil Evans collaborations and Coltrane years filling out disc one.

On the second disc, his second classic quartet comes to the forefront, followed by terrific selections from the electric years, including a cut from On the Corner, traditionally disdained by jazz critics. Three tracks from the '60s round out the disc, completing an overview of astonishing scope and breadth. Yes, there is nothing particularly rare here (with the exception of "Generique," from Ascenseur Pour l'Échafaud), but this wasn't designed for the converted -- it was designed to convert and it does its job superbly."

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

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CD 1

01 Now's The Time 3:15
Alto Saxophone – Charlie Parker | Bass – Curly Russell | Piano – Dizzy Gillespie

02 Jeru 3:10
Alto Saxophone – Lee Konitz | Arranged By – Gerry Mulligan | Baritone Saxophone – Gerry Mulligan | Bass – Joe Shulman | French Horn – Junior Collins* | Piano – Al Haig | Producer – Pete Rugolo
Trombone – Kai Winding | Written-By – Gerry Mulligan

03 Compulsion 5:35
Piano – Walter Bishop* | Tenor Saxophone – Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins

04 Tempus Fugit 3:50
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Gil Coggins
Producer – Alfred Lion
Tenor Saxophone – Jimmy Heath
Written-By – Bud Powell

05 Walkin' 13:26
Piano – Horace Silver
Tenor Saxophone – Lucky Thompson
Written-By – Richard Carpenter (2)

06 'Round Midnight
Composed By [Composer] – Cootie Williams, Thelonious Monk

07 Bye Bye Blackbird 7:54
Composed By [Composer] – Ray Henderson

08 New Rhumba 4:37
Bass Trombone – Tom Mitchell*
Clarinet – Lee Konitz, Sid Cooper
Drums – Art Taylor
Producer [Assistant] – Cal Lampley
Trumpet – Johnny Carisi*, Taft Jordan
Written-By – Ahmad Jamal

09 Generique 2:45
Bass – Pierre Michelot
Piano – René Urtreger
Producer – Marcel Romano
Tenor Saxophone – Barney Wilen

10 Summertime 3:17
Alto Flute – Danny Bank, Jerome Richardson, Romeo Penque
Clarinet – Jerome Richardson, Romeo Penque
Composed By [Composer] – George Gershwin
Flute – Jerome Richardson
French Horn – Gunther Schuller, Julius Watkins
Producer – Cal Lampley
Recorded By – Frank Laico
Trumpet – Johnny Coles

11 So What 9:22
Piano – Bill Evans

12 The Pan Piper 3:52
Bassoon – Jack Knitzer
Flute – Al Block, Harold Feldman
French Horn – Joe Singer*, Tony Miranda
Harp – Janet Putnam
Oboe – Romeo Penque
Percussion – Elvin Jones, Jose Mangual
Trumpet – Johnny Coles

13 Someday My Prince Will Come 9:04
Piano – Wynton Kelly
Tenor Saxophone – Hank Mobley
Written-By – Frank Churchill, Larry Morey

CD 2

01 My Funny Valentine 14:55
Tenor Saxophone – George Coleman
Written-By – Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers

02 E.S.P. 5:27

03 Nefertiti 7:53

04 Petits Machins (Little Stuff) 8:05

05 Miles Runs The Voodoo Down 14:01
Bass – Dave Holland
Drums [Left] – Don Alias
Drums [Right] – Jack DeJohnette
Electric Bass – Harvey Brooks
Electric Guitar – John McLaughlin
Electric Piano – Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Larry Young
Percussion – Juma Santos*, Lennie White*
Soprano Saxophone – Wayne Shorter

06 Little Church 3:15
Electric Bass – Dave Holland
Organ – Keith Jarrett
Whistling – Hermeto Pascoal
Written-By – Hermeto Pascoal

07 Black Satin 5:15
Congas – Don Elias*
Drums – Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette
Electric Bass – Michael Henderson
Guitar – Reggie Lucas
Keyboards – Cedric Lawson
Percussion – Airto Moreira, James "Mtume" Foreman*
Sitar [Electric] – Khalil Balakrishna
Soprano Saxophone – Carlos Garnett
Tabla – Badal Roy

08 Jean Pierre 4:01
Electric Bass – Marcus Miller
Guitar – Mike Stern
Organ – Miles Davis
Percussion – Mino Cinelu
Recorded By – Tom Suzuki
Soprano Saxophone – Bill Evans (3)

09 Time After Time 3:39
Co-producer – Vince Wilburn, Jr.*
Electric Bass – Darryl Jones
Guitar – John Scofield
Percussion – Steve Thornton
Producer – Miles Davis, Robert Irving III
Synthesizer – Robert Irving III
Written-By – Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman

10 Portia 6:18
Arranged By – Marcus Miller
Percussion – Paulinho Da Costa
Producer – Marcus Miller
Producer, Executive Producer – Tommy Lipuma
Programmed By [Synthesizer, Additional] – Marcus Miller
Recorded By – Peter Doell
Written-By – Marcus Miller

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