JJ 06/91: Miles Davis – Milestones

Thirty years ago, Graham Colombé found that once the technical challenge of Dr. Jekyll was over the famous album justified its high reputation. First published in Jazz Journal June 1991


This well-known album opens with its weakest track on which the tempo seems a little too fast for Miles and he’s reduced at one point to quoting from The Saints. Coltrane and Adderley cope bet­ter but their alternating choruses fail to build up momentum and only the bowing Chambers and Philly Joe are impressive.

After that things improve and the rest of the album justifies its high reputa­tion. It’s interesting to observe with hindsight the pointers towards the following year’s Kind Of Blue. Of the five band tracks four are 12-bar blues and the other is the modal Milestones on which the solos strikingly fore­shadow the sound of the later album.

Billy Boy is a fluidly exciting showcase for the rhythm section with Chambers and Jones again outstanding. Of the horns Davis (Dr Jekyll apart) is the most con­structive soloist but the sax­ophonists also consistently hold the attention, Adderley’s flashiness balanced by Coltrane’s inten­sity. Red Garland, though adequate, didn’t match the indi­viduality of the other five and was about to be replaced by Bill Evans, which leads me to my conclusion. CBS could have done their clien­tele a favour by including here Green Dolphin Street and the other two tracks with Evans recorded shortly after these – an obvious and chronological way of extending the playing time.

(a) Dr Jekyll; Sid’s Ahead; Two Bass Hit; Milestones; (b) Billy Boy; (a) Straight, No Chaser (47.36)
(a) Miles Davis (t); Cannonball Adderley (as); John Coltrane (ts); Red Garland (p); Paul Chambers (b); Philly Joe Jones (d). NYC, early 1958. (b)  Garland, Chambers, Jones only.
(CBS 460827 2)