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"YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN" (May 1952)

Later re-released as "Miles Davis, Vol. 1", Blue Note

Critic Scott Yanow, in his essay "Hard Bop" (November 2010), writes: "The beginning of hard bop on record is difficult to determine since its development from bop was a gradual process. A good starting point is Miles Davis' Blue Note sessions of 1952-54; His Blue Note sides featured such important young hard bop stylists as altoist Jackie McLean (whose sound was much different than the cooler-toned Paul Desmond and Lee Konitz), tenor-saxophonist Sonny Rollins (a hard bop extension of Coleman Hawkins), trombonist J.J. Johnson, the highly influential pianist Horace Silver and drummer Art Blakey." In a Blue Note review Yanow continues that "Miles' recordings of 1951-1954 tend to be overlooked because of his erratic lifestyle of the period and because they predated his first classic quintet. Although he rarely recorded during this era, what he did document was often quite classic. The first session [May 9, 1952] features Davis in a sextet with trombonist J.J. Johnson, altoist Jackie McLean, pianist Gil Coggins, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Kenny Clarke; highlights include "Dear Old Stockholm," "Woody 'n' You," and interpretations of "Yesterdays" and "How Deep Is the Ocean."


Of particular interest for the Bohemia After Dark Project is the inclusion of the Oscar Pettiford tune "Chance It", a reworking of an obscure early bop chart he first recorded with a big band including Dizzy Gillespie on January 9, 1945 (same date as the first Manor recording of Salt Peanuts) under the title "Something for You" and later a feature for drummer Max Roach under the title "Max (is) Making Wax".


Despite the optimistic album title of the original release, 1952 otherwise marked a low point in Davis's career, being, according to Ian Carr (in "Miles Davis: A Critical Biography"), "an empty and miserable year for Miles", blighted in particular by a serious heroin addiction. In a career review of Miles written that year, Leonard Feather wrote: "one of the most influential of modern jazzmen, through his trumpet work and the school of orchestral bop started by his Capitol records, Miles in the past year has seen his career slip away from him while his imitators have been progressing".  His fortunes revived in the following years and it is the later April 1953 and March 1954 Blue Note sessions (with Art Blakey) that are the more significant for the development of hard bop. 


"Young Man with a Horn" (Blue Note)

Full album on YouTube

Later re-released as part of Miles Davis Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Blue Note)

WOR Studios, NYC, May 9, 1952

Miles Davis, trumpet; Jay Jay Johnson, trombone; Jackie McLean, alto sax; "Gil" Coggins, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums.

Tracks: Dear Old Stockholm; Chance It; Donna; Woody 'n' You; Yesterdays; How Deep is the Ocean.

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