(Upcoming Release) Black Friday RSD Release “Miles in Tokyo” Reissues Exclusive Japanese Live Album – A Deeper Dive

Get On Down reissue of 1969 album Miles in Tokyo reproduces the original Japanese LP artwork down the OBI strip.

Miles Davis fans are being treated with not one, but TWO exclusive releases for the 2019 Black Friday Record Store Day! The first one, a special release of outtakes from the Complete In A Silent Way Sessions, we covered HERE.

If that wasn’t enough, reissue label Get On Down is releasing a previously Japan-only album of Miles Davis in concert from 1964 with an early iteration of his “second great quintet.” It was released in the US on CD in 2005, but not on vinyl. Titled simply Miles in Tokyo, the album originally came out in 1969 on Sony/CBS and this release copies that release down to the gorgeous black and white cover art and the OBI strip (which is slightly modified to show the Get On Down catalog number and logo). The original pressing was a gatefold, I’m hoping the replicated that as well, but I have no indication one way or another. (Chris from Bull Moose hasn’t done his rundown yet. I’ll update this if he mentions it).

This recording follows the legendary February 12th, 1964 performance at the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The performance was a benefit show to raise money to get black voters registered in the South. The band, made up of Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on double bass, Tony Williams on drums and George Coleman on tenor sax (who would be replaced by Sam Rivers for the overseas shows including Live in Tokyo) were not told until just before the show that they would be donating their salaries for the night and told that if they didn’t like it they could leave the band. Davis would credit the resulting tension for creating the fiery performance captured on two albums: My Funny Valentine and Four & More both released in 1965.

Sam Rivers joined Miles Davis’s quartet in April of 1964 replacing George Coleman according to the Sam Rivers sessionography. This database quotes Davis as saying he wanted to hire Wayne Shorter but Art Blakey had him tied up in the Jazz Messengers, so he hired Rivers at Tony Williams’s suggestion and took him on tour. Rivers would stay with the quintet through July 15th, which is the day after the Miles in Tokyo recording took place. Rivers would be replaced evenually with Wayne Shorter in September, which would establish the “second great quintet” which would stay in place until 1968 and recorded the albums E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro.

I think the reason for Rivers’s short stint in Davis’s band is two-fold. Clearly Rivers was Davis’s second choice, and also the general opinion is that Rivers’s style on the sax didn’t mesh well with Davis’s, and this is apparent according to critics on the Miles in Tokyo album. To me the recording is notable in its frenetic pacing of the songs. I think it picks up the energy from the Lincoln Center performance, which shares a lot of the same songs, including the sped up “So What.”

Here is the track listing for Miles in Tokyo:

A Side : “If I Were A Bell”, “My Funny Valentine”
B Side : “So What”, “Walkin”, “All Of You”

Helpfully, there is a YouTube video of the complete album:

(Upcoming Release) New Unheard Release: John Coltrane – Blue World – A deeper dive

Impluse!/Universal has dropped another surprise John Coltrane release! Just over a year ago they announced the Both Directions At Once release of sessions from 1963– the tapes of which came from Coltrane’s personal collection of demo reels.

Titled Blue World, the album (out September 27th) is made up of recordings Coltrane’s classic quartet with Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner tracked on June 24, 1964 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. These songs were tracked for Quebecois film producer Gilles Groulx to be used for his film Le chat dans le sac (“The Cat In The Bag”). The songs were mostly new recordings of songs from Coltrane’s catalog plus a new song “Blue World” (which, according to an article by NPR, was itself a variation of a previously-recorded song the pop standard “Out Of This World” by Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer). Revisiting previous works in the studio isn’t something Coltrane had done before, or from what I can tell, since. This gives us a unique way to view the development Coltrane and band were going through by comparing previous recordings to these reinterpretations.

The first thing I did when I heard about this release was to check my faithful jazz session database at jazzdisco.org and it was missing! This has since been remedied as the details of this release came to light. According to the interview with Barbara Ulrich (who played the lead also named Barbara in the film) for the liner notes (written by Jazz scholar Ashley Kahn) of the release quoted in the NPR.org article, Groulx was a fan of John Coltrane and it was through an acquaintance that he knew Jimmy Garrison which was likely the connection to Coltrane’s involvement in the film. Groulx attended the recording session on June 24th and was handed the 37-minute 1/4″ mono tape at the end of the session. Since it wasn’t an official release and these sessions weren’t part of an album recording, they didn’t make it to the database.

In the Rolling Stone article about the Blue World release, they quote Ulrich’s recollection of the session. Groulx hadn’t started filming, so Coltrane wasn’t working from the film itself. In the end, he only used 10 minutes of the 37-minute session.

“Gilles had a list of the music he wanted and later he told me when he gave the list to Coltrane, Coltrane said, ‘Okay, I can do this — I can’t do that, it’s not mine. OK I get it, I know what you want.’ Then they just started jamming and recorded for several hours. Then Rudy gave Gilles the tape and that was it. When he got back he was absolutely ecstatic. He knew exactly where he was going to use the music in the film.”

In Eric Fillon’s dissertation on the film in his paper “The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec’s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967” he explains how Coltrane came to be part of the film:

Le chat dans le sac featured an original score by John Coltrane, an African American saxophonist whose music was often associated with Black Nationalism. The film’s jazz soundtrack was dans l’air du temps [current fashion]. It echoed Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958) and John Cassavetes’ Shadows (1959) which featured contributions by jazzmen Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. However, the music also serves to validate the language of decolonization which Claude deploys throughout the film. Groulx’s main protagonist reads Frantz Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre, Louis E. Lomax’s La révolte noire and Parti pris. Claude, a [Quebecois separationist revolutionary] , listens to jazz as he plans his revolt. …. Coltrane’s music legitimizes Claude’s quest for emancipation in ways that Barbara cannot.

The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec‟s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the
National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967 p 60

The Rolling Stone article says that the tape eventually made it to the National Film Board of Canada and that was how Impulse! came to get it early last year. The National Film Board of Canada was the organization that underwrote Le chat dans le sac originally. There is a funny story in the Fillon paper I quoted above about how the NFB was only interested in producing television content at the time that Gilles Groulx was working with them. Groulx agreed to shooting a TV show, and apparently gave them the Canadian theme of “snow” for this project. Instead he took the funds and shot Le chat dans le sac.

Here are the tracks on the album along with my notation of which album the original version is on. It’s interesting, if not notable, that “Naima” from Giant Steps and the two songs from Jazz (“Village Blues”, “Like Sonny”) were all recorded originally during the same sessions in 1959 and 1960. In many ways Jazz can be looked at as the outtakes from the Giant Steps sessions.

TRACKS
SIDE A
1 Naima (Take 1) (4:34) originally on Giant Steps (1959)
2 Village Blues (Take 2) (3:41) originally on Jazz (recorded 1959, released 1961)
3 Blue World (6:08)
4 Village Blues (Take 1) (3:51) Jazz (1961)
SIDE B
1 Village Blues (Take 3) (3:45) Jazz (1961)
2 Like Sonny (2:43) originally on Jazz (1961)
3 Traneing In (7:42) originally on John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (1958)
4 Naima (Take 2) (4:10) Giant Steps (1959)

The title track from Blue World

Blue World has been mastered from its original mono analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York. The new 180g vinyl edition’s lacquers were cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.

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