Review - Birdland 1951

Artist: Miles Davis

These oft-bootlegged performances document Miles in one of the first of many transitional periods. Having emerged from the shadows of sideman status into the spotlight of "cool" compositions, these electrifying stands at the legendary Birdland nightclub find Davis easing into a more group-oriented blowing session. Spanning nearly all of 1951, these three sets (from February, June and September) were originally broadcast on the radio, and the sound quality is sadly, but unsurprisingly, thin. (Regard-less, for those accustomed to listening to bootlegs of the June and September shows, this release is infinitely better.) The 10 tracks show a young and confident Miles who's not unwilling to share the spotlight with a phenomenally talented band -- Kenny Drew, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus and others appear. Laying the groundwork for his legendary quintet sessions for Prestige, everything here is powerful and loose; unfortunately, the fidelity makes the studio sessions from the same era preferable.

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