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C.A.T.: Milestones

Miles Davis – Milestones (1958)

The late ’50s to early ’60s wasn’t really a time in which the album had really taken hold as a huge force in rock n’ roll, and everything seemed to more based around singles.  I know jazz hasn’t really been represented on this blog at all, but I figured it was about time considering I’ve always been somewhat of a fan of the genre, but by no means a jazz expert or anything.

Milestones has pretty much always lived in the shadow of Miles’ next album, the landmark Kind Of Blue, and for good reason.  However, Milestones is nonetheless a pretty amazing set of songs, as it sees Miles in a way reaching the pinnacle of his frantic ’50s hard bop style, while pointing the way to the kind of etherial sound he’d explore on Kind Of Blue.  The album’s title track even sees Miles exploring the kind of modal-based compositions that would define Kind Of Blue as well as a lot of jazz in general that would come out of the early ’60s.

A big part of any great jazz album is without a doubt the instrumentation, and Milestones is another example of Miles’ ability to bring together the best musicians around and bring out the best in them.  Coltrane, Cannonball, Garland, Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones are all pretty much flawless, and you’d expect nothing less than phenomenal playing from a group like that.  And for anyone that’s ever said Miles Davis was a great conceptualist but not a great trumpet player, just check out “Dr. Jekyll”, in which the dude effectively blows his ass off.

If you’re not really familiar with jazz or the music of Miles Davis, this might not be quite as good a place to start as Kind Of Blue, but it’s definitely at that same level.  Either way, it ranks among my favorite Miles albums, and it captures him in one of the most adventurous and creative periods of his unprecedented career.

Favorite Tracks: “Two Bass Hit”, “Milestones”, “Straight, No Chaser”

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