Miles Davis, from his beginnings as a nineteen-year-old kid in 1945 New York City, to his final days in the early 1990s, is to be considers one of the jazzs best. The 1996 album entitled, Bluing: Miles Davis Plays the Blues, the engineers at Prestige Records bring Miles Davis back to life. Packed with over 73 minutes and of 12 bar blues, Bluing brings nine great tunes of Davis together on one disk. Having been originally recorded in the 1950s, these nine cuts take the listener through a decade of music and a decade of Davis life.
On the opening track, entitled Bluing, we hear nearly ten minutes of Davis on trumpet, Jackie McLean on alto sax, Sonny Rollins on tenor, Walter Bishop, Jr. on piano, Tommy Porter on bass, and Art Blakey playing the drums. Bishop provides the intro of the song on the piano, with Blakey coming in soon after. Nearly a minute in, Davis begins and is soon softly accompanied by the saxes. Through the first five or so minutes of the tune, Davis enjoys a solo. He is then followed by the tenor and alto sax, respectively. I enjoy this track mostly for the tone Davis achieves and the moderate tempo. However, during Rollins tenor solo and then again for the last minute or so of the song, Davis and the rest of the group pick up the pace and begin double-timing. In the end, for me, this track is made classic by a botched ending on the part of Art Blakey. If you listen closely you can hear Davis instant reaction: Well have to play it again then, man. You know the arrangement. Obviously enough, Blakey doesnt contribute to any of the other songs on the album.
Another cut that I enjoyed on this album is Bags Groove. Originally issued on Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants: Bags Groove, this song opens with Milt Jackson on vibraharp and also has a great vibraharp solo about three minutes in to the over nine minute tune.
Track five has come to be my favorite on the album Bluing. Entitled Green Haze, this cut consists of Red Garland on piano, Oscar Pettiford on bass, Philly Joe Jones on the drums, and of course Davis with his trumpet. Garland provides a great opening on the piano. Davis comes in a little over a minute in to the tune and sets a very subdued mood with his warm, mellow tone and a slower tempo. Later on in the song the group picks it up a bit and begins playing double-time, only to slow it back down for a great bass solo by Pettiford. The entire song is background by the Jones stirring of a brush on his snare. This gives the tune a very softened feel. It is this melodious and softened feel that makes me enjoy the tune so much.
Before listening to this album I had the idea in my mind that all blues was slow in tempo and portrayed a mood of depression or sadness. After listening to these nine songs I see that blues can be at any tempo at all, and can also create moods other than sadness. The second song on the album, Blue N Boogie is very up-tempo and actually makes me wish I knew how to dance jazz. I was surprised to find that I liked the faster songs on the album because in the past, though I have been involved in playing music for many years, Ive always enjoyed the slower songs. Now on the other hand, I find myself wanting to start playing again so I can have a chance to play some of these faster tunes that I have passed on in the past.
As for Miles Davis Bluing, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to hear some really good jazz. Prestige Records did a great job of choosing nine of Davis blues tunes to compile onto one disk.