‘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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