Miles Davis

The Best of Miles Davis [Prestige]

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The Best of Miles Davis opens with a spectacular version of "A Night in Tunisia," with trumpeter Davis and pianist Red Garland circling around the melody and playing against Oscar Pettiford's bass and Philly Joe Jones' backbeat. The connection between the players and the edginess of the solos leave the listener with one fear: Will anything on the disc be able to equal "A Night in Tunisia"'s intensity? Despite the challenge, Davis and colleagues like tenor John Coltrane, pianist Horace Silver, and drummer Max Roach meet the high mark again and again. First there are pieces like "Doxy" and "Airegin" featuring tenor Sonny Rollins, Silver, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Kenny Clarke. "Airegin" in particular, really cooks, with Heath's bass driving the horns forward for some stellar solo work. Then there are the pieces like "If I Could Write a Book," "Oleo," and "The Theme" with Coltrane, Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and Jones. The rhythm section here has snap, providing an edge for the soloists to play against. The Best of Miles Davis closes with the sunny "When Lights Are Low" from 1953, offering a signpost to just how far Davis had traveled between 1953 and 1956. For anyone wondering what jazz's best-known trumpeter was doing in the mid-'50s, this disc should fit the bill.

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