EARLY MILES & JIMMY FORREST IN A HOT WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE
RBSProds | Deep in the heart of Texas | 06/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Four and a half SWINGING Stars for the performances; Two Stars for the CD sound. Three Stars plus overall. But regardless, it is a KEEPER for me. This is Early Miles in 1952, bursting with musical ideas, recorded live in his hometown of St Louis with another hometown hero, tenor saxist Jimmy Robert Forrest, (1922-1980) whom some considered strictly an R&B player because of his monster hit, "Night Train". Forrest, stylistically standing firmly in the quadrangle of Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Wardell Gray, could play both jazz and R&B, and in the company of Miles Davis, he is absolutely SMOKING! Miles for his part was very adventurous and, at times, he is positively BREATHTAKING in his execution: although 'his reach exceeds his grasp' as far as intonation and execution goes in a few cases. No matter: for true jazz fans, that's what we want from live performances: adventure, the sound of surprise, and the live club ambience. And the musical quotes are flying everywhere.
From the first distorted (and scary) 15 seconds of this CD, it's clear this does not sound like a professional recording. It immediately gets a lot better after that, but the bass (John Hixon) is far in the background at times, Oscar Oldham's cymbals are like wind-blown chimes (but his snare, tom-toms, and bass drum are audible throughout), and Charles Fox' very audible piano is farther back in the background than the drums and is not brought to the forefront when he is soloing. Drummer Oldham and pianist Fox provide great solo and background support. Still, the experienced phonograph record listener will not have a lot of problems listening to this recording at a high volume level and/or using an equalizer.
My favorite 'Pieces De Resistance' begin with "Lady Bird" by the great Tadd Dameron. A marvelous, convoluted "Wahoo" is quote-laden and thinly disguised as it rides on the chord changes of "Perdido". Then there's "What's New" with both a cool beat and hot solos from all concerned, as Miles and Jimmy toss the solos and support back and forth. "Our Delight" is great bebop. "All the Things You Are" may be the best performance of the CD. You'll love Jimmy's 'scat singing', with Miles' support, on the set closing theme, "Oh, Lady Be Good" by the Gershwins, as Jimmy makes a bold verbal play for the "Lady in Red", but it ends as our appetites are whetted. Most of the piano solo is edited out on "Night in Tunisia".
I really enjoy 'early' Miles Davis because we know where he was headed and the clues are everywhere. "For Kicks Only", indeed. Four "Live" Stars, with a caution on the sound if you're looking for perfection. For me, it's a KEEPER and you may wish, like me, that you were there that night in St Louis for Miles' homecoming and fatefull encounter with "Mr Night Train" in a hot, swinging bop session. Definitely recommended for collectors & bop fans. Four and a half HOT Stars for the performances, despite the sound.
*The CD presentation is wonderful with 2 great Miles Davis photos, but unfortunately no photo of Jimmy Forrest. Nice liner notes, however.
* I highly recommend that "song samples" be provided so listeners will be able to hear the sound quality before buying dated recordings such as this. But as a phonographic record owner, it's second nature for me to listen 'through' an old recording's limitations with great enjoyment nonetheless. So I don't mind the 'furry' sound and the balance problem. But it's there.)"