Vinyl Spotlight: Workin’ with The Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige 7166) [Original Pressing]

  • Original 1959 pressing
  • “Bergenfield, N.J.” address on both labels
  • Deep groove 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

All tracks except “Half Nelson” recorded May 11, 1956
“Half Nelson” recorded October 26, 1956
All tracks recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Originally released December 1959

This hobby is all about patience. Several years back, a friend of mine who is almost exclusively a collector of rock and disco twelve-inches randomly scored an EX original pressing of this album for 30 bucks at a shop in Troy, New York, just a 15-minute drive up the Hudson from my native Albany. Try as I have to pry it from his hands over the years, he’s never budged. A pinch of jealousy toward his steal may have then influenced me in the coming years to pass up countless copies of this album that I felt weren’t the right combination of condition and price (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a copy of this album for $30 in any condition). Recently I finally found a VG+ copy that, while priced over double what my friend paid, was still fair nonetheless. Upon previewing playback at the store, I found a passage of very light ticks in one spot, but after running the record through my Spin Clean, I was astonished to find that the ticks went away. (As much as I adore the Spin Clean, this was a first!)

Being one of four legendary albums Miles and company recorded for Prestige in 1956 in order to quickly fulfill his contract with the label before moving over to Columbia, this copy of Workin’ now complements my copy of Cookin’ (Relaxin’ and Steamin’ I can take or leave). These recordings represent a “sweet spot” in engineer Rudy Van Gelder’s tenure at his Hackensack, New Jersey home recording studio: lifelike mono sound that creates a natural sense of space with instruments balanced to perfection. “It Never Entered My Mind”, a patented, gorgeous Miles ballad complete with the sweet sounds of the leader’s muted trumpet, will perk up the ears of just about any music lover (my rock-and-disco-collecting friend included), and “Four” has all the ingredients of a hard bop classic. As with Cookin’, Philly Joe Jones’ drums sound incredibly natural at times and thunderous at others, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of the more structured style of improvisation John Coltrane sported in 1956. This combination of world-class musicianship paired with a charming, minimalist monophonic presentation firmly places these sessions near the top of my list of favorites.