Vinyl Spotlight: Miles Davis In Person at the Blackhawk (Original Friday/Saturday Night Mono Pressings)

Friday Night (CL 1669):

  • Original 1961 mono pressing
  • “Six-eye” labels

Saturday Night (CL 1670):

  • Second mono pressing circa 1961-1962
  • “Six-eye” labels

Personnel:

  • Miles Davis, trumpet
  • Hank Mobley, tenor saxophone
  • Wynton Kelly, piano
  • Paul Chambers, bass
  • Jimmy Cobb, drums

Recorded April 21-22, 1961 at the Black Hawk, San Francisco, California
Originally released September 1961

My Friday Night copy is considered an original pressing by most collectors but my Saturday Night copy is not due to the “CBS” marking on the labels. This is where I diverge from the record collecting consensus. I would agree that the CBS copy is not a first pressing but I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with referring to it as an “original pressing”. Being as specific as possible seems the honorable thing to do when it comes to selling, but my feeling is that in everyday conversation any copy of an album that would have been released in the era the album was originally released can rightfully be called an original (certainly, “in the era” is open to interpretation). Seeing that my CBS copy of Saturday Night was in all likelihood pressed in either the same year or the year after a first pressing, I don’t hesitate to think of this as an “original pressing”.

Live recording is by and large a more challenging endeavor when compared to the higher degree of control typically obtained in a recording studio. That being said, this Miles Davis album is an exceptional example of a live recording. Every instrument has its own space, even in mono, and the level of detail and accuracy here is a welcome break from the smeared, distorted sound of many live albums. Not only does Jimmy Cobb’s drum kit sound incredible here, his playing has a captivating and energetic sense of forward motion that seems to predict Tony Williams’ inclusion in Davis’ lineup shortly after. These albums also present a rare opportunity to hear how tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, a mainstay of Blue Note records, holds up under the intense scrutiny of the date’s superstar bandleader.