‘The Sound of Miles Davis’: Classic 1959 Performance with John Coltrane

Here’s an amaz­ing time cap­sule from the gold­en age of jazz: Miles Davis and his group–including John Coltrane–performing with the Gil Evans Orches­tra on the CBS pro­gram, The Robert Her­ridge The­ater.

The show was record­ed on April 2, 1959 at Stu­dio 61 in New York. It was a bold depar­ture for The Robert Her­ridge The­ater, a pro­gram nor­mal­ly devot­ed to the dra­mat­ic sto­ry-telling arts. Davis was slat­ed to appear with his full sex­tet, but alto sax­o­phon­ist Julian “Can­non­ball” Adder­ley had a migraine headache that day, accord­ing to the Miles Ahead Web site, so the group was pared down to a quin­tet, with Davis on trum­pet and flugel­horn, Coltrane on tenor and alto sax­o­phone, Wyn­ton Kel­ly on piano, Paul Cham­bers on bass and Jim­my Cobb on drums.

The broad­cast took place halfway through the record­ing of Davis’s land­mark album, Kind of Blue. The 26-minute show (see above) opens with the clas­sic “So What,” record­ed only a month ear­li­er. Davis solos twice on the song to fill in for Adder­ley. The group is then joined by Gil Evans and his orches­tra. Togeth­er they play three num­bers from Davis’s 1957 album, Miles Ahead. Here’s the set list:

  1. So What
  2. The Duke
  3. Blues for Pablo
  4. New Rhum­ba
  5. So What (reprise)

“There are many ways of telling a sto­ry,” says host and pro­duc­er Robert Her­ridge. “What you’re lis­ten­ing to now, the music of Miles Davis, is one of those ways.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Thelo­nious Monk, Bill Evans and More on the Clas­sic Jazz 625 Show

1959: The Year that Changed Jazz

Clas­sic Jazz Album Cov­ers Ani­mat­ed, or the Re-Birth of Cool

The Uni­ver­sal Mind of Bill Evans: Advice on Learn­ing to Play Jazz & The Cre­ative Process

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