Tuesday, October 13, 2009


In all the annals of modern jazz, there is no other phenomenon that compares to the 30-year association of Miles Davis and Columbia Records, from 1955 to 1985.  Both in the scope of Miles’ prolific output during the entire history of the 12-inch LP era, more than 50 distinct album titles in the U.S., Europe and Japan, as well as the primal influence that Miles – and his evolving group lineups – had on the course of jazz, there is simply no precedent.  Miles at Columbia stands alone.

            For more than two decades now, Miles Davis fans and aficionados, musicians and critics, collectors and configurationalists have wondered if the time would ever come that Miles’ entire Columbia album output would be assembled in one total package. That time has finally arrived.

            THE COMPLETE MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION is an historic release event.  The super-deluxe box set contains 52 CD and double-CD albums – which includes the previously unreleased full-length audio version of Isle Of Wight performance from 1970 – 70 CDs in all.  (Rarities and other previously unreleased material still exist in the vast Miles Davis archive, and they are delineated below.) 

            The box set adds a bonus DVD, Miles Davis Quintet: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams / Live In Europe '67.  Here are two separate European concert performances by the groundbreaking ‘second great quintet,’ filmed in Stockholm and Karlsruhe, Germany, October and November 1967, respectively.  This DVD represents the only video of this Miles Davis Quintet lineup ever to be officially commercially released.

            Along with the discs comes a generous 250-page book whose centerpiece is an 11,000-word biographical essay by Frédéric Goaty, the most in-depth liner notes ever included in any Miles Davis package.  Goaty is the director of the French Jazz Magazine and the co-author of the 1995 book Miles Davis.  The essay is complemented by brief annotations (about 200 words each) written by Franck Bergerot, covering every single one of the 52 albums and the DVD.  Bergerot is the Chief Editor of Jazz Magazine and the author of Miles Davis: Introduction à l’écoute du jazz moderne. Rare photography, full discographic production notes, and a complete track index are also included.

            THE COMPLETE MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION will be available starting November 24th through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.  The box set will be for sale exclusively from Amazon in the physical package only, priced at $364.98.

            The release of the MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA box set coincides with a three-month exhibition at the Museé de la Musique in Paris (October 16, 2009, through January 17, 2010) entitled “We Want Miles.”  The exhibition follows the evolution of the artist from his birth (May 26, 1926) and childhood in East Saint Louis to his final Paris concert in July, two months before his death on September 28, 1991.

            The cornerstones of the MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA box set are the studio and live albums that were released during his tenure at the label, more than 40 titles that he recorded in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.  The vast majority of these were released around the time of their recording or soon after; others appeared as historic discoveries years later.  Since the critically acclaimed and multiple Grammy Award-winning Miles Davis Series was launched in 1996, the majority of all these albums have been reissued by Columbia/Legacy as expanded editions with bonus material.  The expanded editions will be the ones utilized on this new box set.  Since the original LP jacket artwork will be replicated, the bonus tracks will only appear as indexed in the book’s discographical section.

            They include: ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Milestones (1958), Miles Davis At Newport (1958), Porgy and Bess (1958), Jazz At The Plaza (1958), Kind Of Blue (1959), Sketches Of Spain (1960), Someday My Prince Will Come (1961), In Person: Friday Night At the Blackhawk (1961), In Person: Satur­day Night At the Blackhawk (1961), At Carnegie Hall (1961), Seven Steps To Heaven (1963), In Europe (1963), My Funny Valentine (1965), ‘Four’ & More (1966), Miles In Tokyo (1964), Miles In Berlin (1964), E.S.P. (1965), Miles Smiles (1966), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), Miles In the Sky (1968), Filles De Kilimanjaro (1969), In A Silent Way (1969), Bitches Brew (1970), A Tribute To Jack Johnson (1971), Live/Evil (1971), On the Corner (1972), Big Fun (1974), Get Up With It (1974), Water Babies (1976), and Aura (1985). 

            Many other albums spanning the decades remain unchanged from their original releases (except for digital remastering).  These include: Circle In The Round (1955 through 1970), 1958 Miles (1958), Directions (1960 through 1970), Live At The Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It’s About That Time (1970), Black Beauty: Miles Davis At Fillmore West (1970), At Fillmore (1970), In Concert (1972), Dark Magus (1974), Agharta (1975), Pangaea (1975), The Man With The Horn (1980-1981), Star People (1982-83), Decoy (1983), and You’re Under Arrest (1984-85).

            A third grouping of albums receive special attention on the new box set and are summarized as follows:

            In Paris Festival International De Jazz May, 1949 (1949): Miles’ first trip to Europe was a resounding critical and commercial success, but upon his return to the U.S., he went through a long purgatory before recovering that acclaim in the ’50s.  In 1977 (in the midst of Miles’ 1975-80 hiatus from touring and recording), Henri Renaud, head of the CBS France Jazz Department, collaborated with Bruce Lundvall, then president of Columbia Records U.S., on the release of the 1949 concert at Salle Pleyel.  It was actually billed on the LP as the Miles Davis-Tadd Dameron Quintet (with James Moody on tenor sax, drummer Kenny Clarke, and bassist Barney Spieler).  This new CD adds two previously unreleased tracks: pianist-composer Dameron’s “The Squirrel” and the classic ballad “Lover Man.”

            Quiet Nights (1962): In the summer 1962, at the dawn of the bossa nova craze, Miles experimented on some tracks with arranger Gil Evans, whose interest in South American music went back many years.  In order to complete the Quiet Nights project, producer Teo Macero pulled a track from the West Coast sessions that yielded Seven Steps To Heaven.  That same summer, Wayne Shorter made his first recordings with Miles and Evans, two years before Shorter joined Miles’ quintet.  One track was a bleak Christmas song called “Blue Xmas / To Whom It May Concern” (introduced on 1962’s Jingle Bell Jazz).  Another track was “Devil May Care” which features one of Miles’ greatest recorded solos.  Both are true rarities which only appeared together before on 1996’s three-time Grammy Award-winning 6-CD box set, Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings.

            At Plugged Nickel (1965): Sony Music in Japan caused a sensation in 1976, when they released two LPs worth of highly-edited music from the December 22-23, 1965 appearance at this Chicago club by the Shorter-Hancock-Carter-Williams quintet.  Columbia received similar raves when they eventually released the double-LP in the U.S. in 1982.  Thirteen years later, the entire unedited program of performances from the Plugged Nickel was issued by Columbia/Legacy as an 8-CD box set (long out-of-print).  This new double-CD version for MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA is the best of both worlds – retrieving the original track sequence of the classic LPs, but in their full unedited versions as heard in the 1995 box set.

            Isle Of Wight (1970): The chaos of the third annual Isle Of Wight Festival is well-documented, as dissidents burned down and trampled as much of the place as they could on the final night, leading the powers-that-be to ban the gathering for more than three decades.  Miles’ set on the fourth (and next-to-last) night was no less revolutionary on the bill he shared with Joni Mitchell, Ten Years After, Emerson Lake & Palmer, the Doors, the Who, and Sly and the Family Stone, among others.  Here is the same general 1970 rhythm section (Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, and Airto Moreira) that Miles used on his 1970 double-LPs Black Beauty: Miles Davis At Fillmore West and At Fillmore.  The Isle Of Wight additions are Keith Jarrett (who also played on At Fillmore) and Gary Bartz replacing Steve Grossman on sax.  This box marks the first official release of the full-length Isle of Wight 1970 concert on any album (CD). 

            We Want Miles (1981): At the end of Miles’ five-year 1975-80 hiatus, he came back with a vengeance, releasing The Man With The Horn in ’81 and hitting the road with most of that album’s players: Bill Evans (saxophones), Mike Stern (guitar), Marcus Miller (bass), and Al Foster (drums), adding Mino Cinelu on percussion.  Columbia recorded them live in Boston, New York and Tokyo, and numbers from all three cities comprised the original double-LP We Want Miles.  CBS/Sony Japan followed up with additional performances from Tokyo on Miles!, Miles!, Miles!, whose impossibly rare LP and subsequent CD are both out-of-print.  Three of those tracks, “Ursula”, “Aida” and “Fat Time,” transform We Want Miles into the newest expanded edition for the release of THE COMPLETE MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION.





(Columbia/Legacy 88697 55852 2)


#     Title                                                                   Rec.             Rel.        Catalog   _

01.       In Paris Festival Int’l De Jazz May, 1949          1949             1977        SRCS 9724

02.       ’Round About Midnight                                    1955-1956     1957        CK 85201

03.  *   Circle In The Round                                        1955-1970     1979        C2K 46862

04.       Miles Ahead                                                   1957             1957        CK 65121

05.       Milestones                                                      1958             1958        CK 85203

06.       1958 Miles                                                      1958             1974        C6K 65833

07.       At Newport 1958                                            1958             1964        CK 85202

08.       Porgy And Bess                                              1958             1959        CK 65141

09.       Jazz At The Plaza                                           1958             1973        CK 85245

10.       Kind Of Blue                                                  1959             1959        CK 64935

11.       Sketches Of Spain                                           1959-60        1960        CK 65142

12.  *   Directions                                                       1960-70        1981        SRCS 9761/2

13.       Someday My Prince Will Come                        1961             1961        CK 65919

14.  *   In Person Friday Night At The Blackhawk,       1961             1961        C2K 87097

               San Francisco - Complete

15.  *   In Person Saturday Night At The Blackhawk,   1961             1961        C2K 87100

               San Francisco - Complete

16.  *   At Carnegie Hall                                             1961             1962        C2K 65027

17.       Quiet Nights + “Blue Xmas (To Whom It          1962             1963        CK 65293

               May Concern)” and “Devil May Care”

18.       Seven Steps To Heaven                                   1963             1963        CK 93592

19.       In Europe                                                        1963             1964        CK 93583

20.       My Funny Valentine                                        1964             1965        CK 93593

21.       “Four” & More                                               1964             1966        CK 93595

22.       Miles In Tokyo                                                1964             1969        CK 93596

23.       Miles In Berlin                                                1964             1965        CK 93594

24.       E.S.P.                                                             1965             1965        CK 65683

25.  *   At Plugged Nickel                                 V. 1   1965             1976        18AP 2067

                                                                        V. 2   1965             1976        18AP 2068

26.       Miles Smiles                                                    1966             1967        CK 65682

27.       Sorcerer                                                         1967             1967        CK 65680

28.       Nefertiti                                                          1967             1968        CK 65681

29.       Water Babies                                                  1967-68        1976        CK 86577

30.       Miles In The Sky                                             1968             1968        CK 65684

31.       Filles De Kilimanjaro                                       1968             1969        CK 86555

32.       In A Silent Way                                              1969             1969        CK 86556

33.  *   Bitches Brew                                                  1969             1970        C2K 65774

34.  *   Big Fun                                                           1969-72        1974        C2K 63973

35.       A Tribute To Jack Johnson                              1970             1971        CK 93599

36.  *   Live At The Fillmore East (March 7, 1970):      1970             2001        C2K 85191

               It’s About That Time

37.  *   Black Beauty: Miles Davis At Fillmore West     1970             1973        C2K 65138

38.  *   At Fillmore                                                      1970             1970        C2K 65139

39.  #   Isle Of Wight                                                  1970             2009        -

40.  *   Live/Evil                                                         1970             1971        C2K 65135

41.       On The Corner                                                1972             1972        CK 63980

42.  *   In Concert                                                      1972             1973        C2K 65140

43.  *   Dark Magus                                                    1974             1977        C2K 65137

44.  *   Get Up With It                                                1972-74        1974        C2K 63970

45.  *   Agharta                                                          1975             1976        C2K 46799

46.  *   Pangaea                                                         1975             1975        C2K 46115

47.       The Man With The Horn                                 1980-81        1981        CK 36790

48.  *   We Want Miles + 3 bonus tracks                      1981             1982        SICP 1235/6

               from Miles!, Miles!, Miles!

49.       Star People                                                     1982-83        1983        CK 38657

50.       Decoy                                                            1983             1984        CK 38991

51.       You’re Under Arrest                                       1984-85        1985        CK 40023

52.       Aura                                                               1985             1989        CK 45332

       *   indicates double-CD.


DVD    Miles Davis Quintet: Wayne Shorter, Herbie     10-11/67       2009        -

               Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams /

               Live In Europe '67











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