Miles Davis: The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel: 1965

American Heritage, November 1995 | Go to article overview

Miles Davis: The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel: 1965


Three new releases present high points of jazz history in attractive, definitive packages. The Duke Ellington set contains selections from the Duke's best Victor, Bluebird, and RCA recordings - which is to say many of his best recordings ever - beginning in the late 1920s, when his band and its sound seemed to appear from nowhere fully formed, through pathbreaking records like "Mood Indigo," "Creole Rhapsody," and "Concerto for Cootie," and right up to works from the 1960s. The emphasis is on the earliest period, as it should be, the twenties and thirties, when the Duke and his band were defining sophistication and elegance and swing. If you want one set that conveys the brilliance and range of Duke Ellington's music, get this one.

John Coltrane and Miles Davis, two of the last real giants of jazz, are caught at their peaks on their two new collections. The Coltrane box comprises all his recordings for the Atlantic label; made between 1959 and 1961, they include all the material that was first released on Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, two of the last serious jazz albums to attract a broad general audience. Coltrane was pushing the frontiers of music at the time, producing "sheets of sound," experimenting with modal harmonies, struggling to wring every expressive possibility from his music. …

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