1958 at Newport

Miles Davis at Newport 1958 might be called the “anti-Kind of Blue“. The two discs share personnel – Davis, Adderly, Coltrane, Evans and Chambers play on both records, Cobb on Newport, Philly Joe Jones on Kind of Blue. But apart from personnel the records are remarkably dissimilar. Kind of Blue was made in the studio and, even apart from being hallowed by time and hype, seems “perfect”: beautifully recorded; stocked with eloquent solos without dead spots or clams; impeccably swinging and profoundly moody. Newport 1958 is live, and not especially well recorded (the bass and piano are nearly lost at times.) The front line sounds a bit confused given the crazily fast tempo of the opening Ah-Leu-Cha. Coltrane’s solos seem far more exploratory and willful on this record than on Kind of Blue, despite the latter record coming after the Newport performance. I like the relaxed swing of Straight, No Chaser and appreciate a chance to hear a second version of Bye Bye Blackbird, one that is less tightly bound to the melody compared with the Round About Midnight version. There is a rough and ready quality to the Newport set that is very different from the melancholy haze of much of Kind of Blue. I value both records, but for very different reasons.

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