Miles Davis / Gil Evans / John Coltrane – Unreleased 1959 ‘The Sound of Miles Davis’ Acetate LP, Documents (‘Kind of Blue’ era)

An almost certainly unique 1959 acetate of the CBS television program The Sound of Miles Davis, filmed while he was recording his landmark album Kind of Blue.  This acetate and the accompanying documents were previously owned by Kind of Blue producer Irving Townsend.

The Sound of Miles Davis was part of the CBS arts and culture series The Robert Herridge Theatre, hosted, produced and directed by the aforementioned Welshman.  The taping took place in CBS’s New York Studio 61 on April 2, 1959, between the sessions for Kind of Blue, recorded on March 2 and April 23 of that year.

The program was filmed in two parts: the opening sequence (Side One of this disc) features Davis and his working band: John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Wynton Kelly, and Jimmy Cobb (Cannonball Adderley was absent due to a migraine.)  Miles and his group, with three trombones added, play an incredible ten-plus minute version of  the Kind of Blue opener ‘So What,’ with an incandescent Coltrane solo.  The version has been called ‘Miles’s only recorded performance that comes so close to the original recording.’

The second segment (Side Two of this disc) features Davis with a Gil Evans-led orchestra, performing three songs from his 1957 album Miles Ahead: “The Duke,” “Blues for Pablo,” and “New Rhumba,” finishing with a reprise of “So What.”  The performances finds Davis, his band, and the Gil Evans-led musicians at their peak.

The disc, dated April 23, 1959, was cut at Gotham Recording in New York City.  Side One is 10:30, and Side Two 14:30. Visually, it grades VG++, and plays beautifully, with some light surface noise and an occasional bit of distortion.  A professional digital transfer is included.

The original sleeve has ‘Townsend’ written in ink on the upper left corner.  Also included are two original mimeographed documents from the filming of The Sound of Miles Davis; a schedule for the group’s two rehearsals, with contact info for Davis, Evans and director Jack Smight; and a schedule with details for seven-hour shoot.  Both are in excellent condition, with staple holes to the top left corners.

The Sound of Miles Davis has never been released on record, though segments of the broadcast can be seen on Youtube.

An extraordinary Miles David artifact from his creative peak.


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