Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: Miles Davis & John Coltrane "Live in Stockholm - 1960"

In 1959, Miles Davis released his seminal masterpiece album, Kind of Blue. Featured on that album were some of the best players at the time; John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on sax, Bill Evans on piano (except on "Freddie Freeloader"; Wynton Kelly played on that track), bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

It was one of the first and most influential modal jazz albums; where chord progressions were phased out in favor of exploration of modes for wider improvisation.

John Coltrane, who was known as a great sideman, was now also becoming a legend as a solo artist and bandleader, since his release Giant Steps, recorded 2 weeks after Kind of Blue. At this point, he was learning to push the limits of the saxophone, going to a more vertical (scalar) approach, coming out with very complicated tones, which would later be called "Sheets of Sound".

By this time in 1960, the Miles Davis sextet was all but dissolved officially, but they still played together live.

This concert in 1960 showcases the styles of each soloist; Miles being the master of cool as he is, 'Trane ripping the sax apart, with the great rhythm section of Chambers, Cobb, and Kelly.

The album's setlist contains major works of Miles, with only one cover standard, "On Green Dolphin Street".

"So What" is played at a much faster rate than the original; but the same modal approach is evident. Miles is the king of NOT playing; his solos have many breathing spaces and his laid back approach shows his dedication to mood.

'Trane on the other hand, starts off with slow minor scale runs, before exploding into a series of scalar runs and the new "overblowing" technique, which he picked up obviously from Ornette Coleman, often sounding erratic and chaotic in comparison to Miles.


1. So What (M. Davis) 15:19
2. On Green Dolphin Street (Washington-Kaper) 13:39
3. All Blues - Theme (M. Davis) 17:12
4. Interview with John Coltrane 6:14
5. So What (M. Davis) 10:49
6. Fran Dance (M. Davis) 7:28
7. Walkin' (R. Carpenter) - Theme 17:21

In the 'Trane interview, he is asked if he angry, as people consider his playing is showcasing his mood, where he says that he isn't, rather he is exploring the music space and he is trying everything in his head till he hears what he likes.

My favorite track has to be "Walkin", a hard-bop Miles number from the early 50's, but updated to reflect the new personalities of the players.

I really recommend this album; it's got the best of two worlds; Miles Davis and his cool, and John Coltrane with his kick in the face aggression, and it's great to hear these jazz giants compliment each other on the same record.

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