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Miles Davis and John Coltrane – The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961

Author: Colin | Published: 27/5/12

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Artist Miles Davis and John Coltrane
Title The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961
Label Columbia
Year 1999
Design Art direction and design: Arnold Levine and Frank Harkins
Music Jazz
Notes The last of my son’s three middle names is Miles (named both for Miles Dewey Davis III and because my parents almost christened me Miles). My cat is called Davis. I used to dance my baby daughter round the living room to 70s Miles to get her to sleep – I too have no idea why I thought that was a good thing… I don’t know how many Miles Davis bootlegs I’ve burnt to CDR, but it’s a lot. I could go on, but won’t.

I long had reservations about Columbia’s complete sessions box sets, of which this is the first, preferring to experience the albums as they were released in Miles’ lifetime. I received the first box, the Complete Bitches Brew, at my own request as a present some years ago and was disappointed by the quality of the unreleased tracks. As a consequence, it took me a few years to buy the next one, the complete On The Corner, which I enjoyed much more. I now own all nine (there are in fact eight, but there’s also the the Cellar Door 1970 in the same format) in their original boxes. If you’re a Miles fan, the rereleased versions are available currently at an incredibly cheap price – for example, the book version of this release is currently £11.99 from Amazon – that kind of price is almost a crime for 6 CDs of such amazing music, beautifully remastered.

Some of the boxes have their problems and inconsistencies which I’ll mention as I cover them over the coming months. Tracks are ordered by date and recording sessions and so Kind of Blue’s songs are in a slightly different running order than the album itself. Some refer to the exploitation of gullible fans through the release of so many versions of Miles’ music. I don’t hear the same complaint levelled at the huge number of different books and documentaries about, say, Van Gogh. I’m with Duke Ellington who referred to Picasso as the Miles Davis of art. Miles was one of the great artists of the twentieth century and deserves all the coverage he’s accorded and more. I for one can’t wait for the second volume of the Bootleg Recordings flagged to be released this year, but okay I do struggle with that replica trumpet case version…

Anyway, I’ve really come to appreciate these boxes and feel tremendously grateful for the insights they provide into Miles Davis’ art. For the most part I like the design of each box which is distinct in terms of layout, materials used, re-interpretation of the original designs, etc. The red and black of the Miles and Trane box here makes for something pleasingly dramatic to these eyes and I love the contrast of the metal container with the linen cover of the booklet.

Also – Miles Davis – On The Corner
– Miles Davis – Tutu
– Miles Davis – Agharta
– Miles Davis – Pangaea
Listen Columbia are hard on copyright infringement so it’s a) hard to find music to embed and b) this video will probably disappear – something here to do with shooting themselves in the foot…


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