Although this two-disc set is a compilation -- primarily consisting of extended outtakes -- Circle in the Round features the true colors of jazz chameleon Miles Davis (trumpet) during a 15-year (1955-1970) span from eight different recording sessions. Whether it was serendipity or astute coordination that gathered these sides together, Davis enthusiasts will undoubtedly find plenty to enjoy from his prolific and seemingly perpetual metamorphosis. The sessions are presented chronologically for the most part, beginning with a composite of "Two Bass Hit." This version is from an October 1955 Kind of Blue session featuring John Coltrane (tenor sax) and a band Davis refers to as "the trio": Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). From the May 1958 recording date comes another major session featuring an all-star lineup: Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (alto sax), Coltrane (tenor sax), Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). Their single take on Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" is an amazing performance that allows for some intensely cool solos from Miles and Adderley in particular. Listen as well for some tasty piano fills from Evans, as this is the sort of interaction that he'd become synonymous with. Although "Blues No. 2" is taken from the final session at which Davis and Coltrane would record together, studio documentation reveals that Coltrane did not perform on this piece. The title track appears in an unedited form on the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68: The Complete Columbia Studio box set. It is a heavily Eastern-influenced freebop work featuring Davis -- who is also credited with performing on chimes during this session -- with his famous late-'60s quintet, featuring Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Herbie Hancock (celeste), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums), as well as Joe Beck (guitar). Two early-1968 sessions featuring George Benson (guitar) with the previously mentioned quintet make up the bulk of the second disc. These tracks are fusion incarnate. The delicate interplay between Benson and Hancock is inspiring on both versions of "Side Car" -- although the second reading seems more focused. From a January 1970 Bitches Brew session is a jaw-dropping reading of David Crosby's "Guinnevere," a complete version of which is available on the highly recommended Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (August 1969-February 1970) box set. Although seemingly hodgepodge in arrangement, Circle in the Round is a brilliant examination of the depth of scope and range possessed by Miles Davis.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2