Deluxe 71 disc box set that contains 52 single CD and double CD albums (which includes the previously unreleased full-length audio version of his 1970 Isle Of Wight performance). The essay is complemented by brief annotations written by Franck Bergerot, covering every single one of the 52 albums. The cornerstones of the box set are the studio and live albums that were released during his tenure at the label, more than 40 titles that he recorded in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s.
In an odd bit of programming, Columbia placed the ballads from Miles Davis' February 12, 1964, concert on My Funny Valentine and the uptempo romps on this LP. Davis, probably a bit bored by some of his repertoire and energized by the teenage Tony Williams' drumming, performed many of his standards at an increasingly faster pace as time went on…
Miles Davis' concert of February 12, 1964, was originally divided into two LPs, with all of the ballads put on My Funny Valentine. These five lengthy tracks (which include "All of You," "Stella by Starlight," "All Blues," "I Thought About You," and the title cut) put the emphasis on the lyricism of Davis, along with some strong statements from tenor saxophonist George Coleman and freer moments from the young rhythm section of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams.
Kind of Blue isn't merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it's an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of "So What." From that moment on, the record never really changes pace – each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It's the pinnacle of modal jazz – tonality and solos build from the overall key, not chord changes, giving the music a subtly shifting quality. All of this doesn't quite explain why seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they've memorized every nuance.
In an odd bit of programming, Columbia placed the ballads from Miles Davis' February 12, 1964, concert on My Funny Valentine and the uptempo romps on this LP. Davis, probably a bit bored by some of his repertoire and energized by the teenage Tony Williams' drumming, performed many of his standards at an increasingly faster pace as time went on. These versions of "So What," "Walkin'," "Four," "Joshua," "Seven Steps to Heaven," and even "There Is No Greater Love" are remarkably rapid, with the themes quickly thrown out before Davis, George Coleman, and Herbie Hancock take their solos. Highly recommended and rather exciting music, it's one of the last times Davis would be documented playing a full set of standards.
Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964 is an anomaly among the retrospective sets that have been issued from the late artist's catalog. It does not focus on particular collaborations (Miles with Coltrane, Gil Evans, the second quintet), complete sessions of historic albums (Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way, and Jack Johnson), or live runs (Plugged Nickel and Montreux). Instead, it is a portrait of the artist in flux, in the space between legendary bands, when he was looking for a new mode of expression, trying to find the band that would help him get there. These seven CDs begin after the demise of bands that included John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly, after his landmark Gil Evans period, and even after his attempts at creating a new band with everyone from Frank Strozier and Harold Mabern to Sonny Rollins and J.J. Johnson.
SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN finds Miles Davis standing yet again on the fault line between stylistic epochs. In early 1963 pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb left to form their own trio, and Miles was forced to form a new band, which included Memphis tenor player George Coleman and bassist Ron Carter. When Miles next entered the studio in Hollywood, he added local drummer Frank Butler and British studio ace Victor Feldman, who ultimately decided not to go on the road with Davis.