Vinyl Spotlight: Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige 7094) [Second “Bergenfield” Pressing]

  • Second pressing circa 1958-1964 (mono)
  • “Bergenfield, N.J.” on both labels
  • Deep groove on both sides
  • “RVG” stamped in dead wax

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis, trumpet
  • John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
  • Red Garland, piano
  • Paul Chambers, bass
  • Philly Joe Jones, drums

Recorded October 26, 1956 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Originally released in 1957

I found this record several years back at the first WFMU record fair I ever attended in New York City. It’s not an “original original” pressing in the sense that it lacks the “NYC” address on the labels, but it’s still made from original Van Gelder mastering. On the ballad “My Funny Valentine” especially, you should be able to hear that this is a very clean copy I was fortunate to find for the price I paid.

Much of what I might say about the history of this album I’ve already said in my review of Davis’ ‘Round About Midnight, which shares the same lineup. I originally bought this record mainly because it was a vintage copy in great shape and because I love this version of “My Funny Valentine”, but I eventually came to appreciate the entire second side of the album just as much (“Blues by Five” remains a ho-hum listen for me). Philly Joe Jones’ drum kit sounds thunderous here, and overall we get a glimpse of engineer Rudy Van Gelder in one of his finest hours at his Hackensack studio.

It would appear that this album and Relaxin’ (Prestige 7129) are the two most popular LPs of the four that Davis’ First Great Quintet recorded for Prestige, the others being Workin’ (Prestige 7166) and Steamin’ (Prestige 7200). I find something to like in all of them, but Cookin’, the first of the four to be released, is definitely my favorite. All four albums were recorded on just two dates in 1956. Renowned audiophile mastering engineer Steve Hoffman has claimed in his online forum that Van Gelder did a better job of recording the second date (which just so happened to produce all the takes present on Cookin’), claiming that Van Gelder made excessive use of spring reverb on the earlier of the two dates; I can’t say I agree. I think Cookin’ has the best program start to finish but I think all four albums are representative of how brilliant Van Gelder was under the restrictions of the mono format.