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Miles Davis 

'Round About Midnight -- Legacy Edition

Wednesday, Jul 13 2005
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It's rare that an album of historic import upon its initial release remains so decades after the fact, but 1956's 'Round About Midnight is a rare album indeed, one that commemorates a few milestones (no pun intended) in the stellar career of Miles Davis. Davis had been at the forefront of the bebop and cool periods, both once-controversial movements in jazz; his recordings with the indie label Prestige saw him become a star, and then he signed with the major Columbia, helping garner international acclaim beyond the jazz scene. Midnight was simultaneously a summation of Davis' synthesis of the hot 'n' cool schools and an introduction to a direction culminating years later with the watershed Kind of Blue. Both Davis and his tenor saxophonist, John Coltrane, were starting to explore a different manner of expression -- the former, a muted (figuratively and literally), spacious, haunting lyricism; the latter, an angular, full-bodied tack with a tone both warm and steely. The "classic" nature of Midnight has been augmented by the inclusion of a bonus disc of previously unissued live recordings (in Pasadena!) from '56, presenting a slightly rawer edition of Davis' then-quintet performing standards (which would in a few years be abandoned entirely in favor of originals). 'Round About Midnight is primo acoustic jazz no domicile should be without.

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Mark Keresman

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