Craft Recordings is pleased to present a vinyl box set edition of The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions from The Miles Davis Quintet. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Prestige Records, the deluxe six-LP set presents the quintet's marathon sessions for the iconic jazz label, recorded between 1955-56, which resulted in the classic albums Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin'. Plus, the box set offers a bonus LP with audio from radio and TV appearances by the group. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI, the discs are housed in a collectible 20-page hardcover linen-wrapped portfolio-style book, featuring stunning photographs of Davis and the band, plus in-depth liner notes from esteemed jazz historian Bob Blumenthal.
Miles Davis' First Great Quintet was assembled in 1955 – a pivotal year for the trumpeter and bandleader. Following a triumphant set at the Newport Jazz Festival, Davis was at the top of his game, and enjoying newfound recognition by industry leaders, critics, and fans alike. With a lineup that featured pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Philly Joe Jones and a relatively unknown tenor saxophonist named John Coltrane (replacing Sonny Rollins), the unit became the dominant small jazz group of the late '50s and helped define the hard-bop genre. In his liner notes, Blumenthal writes "The Miles Davis Quintet heard here was Davis' means of seizing the moment when his physical health and his musical concepts were on an upswing...This is the band Davis organized when he wanted his recordings to stand for more than snapshots of his momentary interests."
Over the course of a year – from November 1955 to October 1956 – the quintet recorded three exceptionally productive sessions with famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder, simulating nightclub sets at Van Gelder's Hackensack, NJ studio. The resulting 32 tracks – presented in chronological order – would make up five complete and significant albums: the quintet's 1956 debut release, Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet, Cookin' (1957), Relaxin' (1958), Workin' (1959), and Steamin' (1961). The recording of "'Round Midnight" would represent this ensemble's lone contribution to the album Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (1959). The majority of these tracks are pop and jazz standards, along with several original compositions from Davis. Highlights include a rendition of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," which Davis would adopt as a signature tune, a scorching drum solo from Jones on "Salt Peanuts," Davis' exquisite use of the Harmon mute on the intimate ballads "My Funny Valentine" and "It Never Entered My Mind," Garland's inspiring solo on "If I Were a Bell," and a standout performance from the rhythm section on "Blues by Five."
Blumenthal writes that during this era, "Davis understood the potential of the new, longer 12-inch album format, and used it to create definitive performances in a variety of moods." Adding, "The key was contrast, which began with the juxtaposition of Davis' concision, Coltrane's complexity, and Garland's sparkle; extended to the textural variety the rhythm section provided each soloist; and was capped by the distinctive range of the band's repertoire."
Because much of the Quintet's material was performed outside of the studio – in nightclubs and concert halls – a bonus LP is included, which features eight TV and radio appearances, including live performances at Café Bohemia, the Blue Note in Philadelphia and on Tonight Starring Steve Allen, offering a broader view of the group's exceptional work together.
The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions was originally released as a CD box set in 2006, garnering wide critical acclaim. Jazz Times wrote that, "To sit down with the 32 [tracks], from "Stablemates" to "My Funny Valentine," is to fall in love all over again with irreplaceable music whose magic is utterly manifest yet elusive of description."