Featuring Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)
New Liner notes by Ira Gitler: "When I wrote the original notes to Miles, I, and just about everyone else, thought this was the first recording of the Miles Davis Quintet ("The New Miles Davis Quintet," as listed on the back liner of the LP) but, as we all found out much later it was just the first to be released.
Before Miles could leave Prestige for Columbia he had to fulfill the remainder of his contract. This was accomplished by the two "marathon" sessions of May 11 and October 26, 1956 that gave birth to four separate LPs: Cookin'; Relaxin'; Workin'; and Steamin'.
October 26, 1955 was the date of the first quintet recording for Columbia. Material from that session was mixed with two subsequent dates for the label (June 5 and September 10, 1956) to comprise 'Round About Midnight which Columbia released in 1957, after Davis's Prestige contract had officially expired. So, in essence, Miles announced the "New" quintet to the public at large. It got generally good reviews, particularly its leader, and the group's club performances were exciting listeners, and marking the beginning of the period in which Miles became a celebrity. He wore Italian suits and drove Italian cars. He also became known for turning his back on the audience. Some people really resented this; others, such as Down Beat's George Crater, made jokes-i.e. The Miles Davis Windup Doll. Miles once explained his move to me very simply: "Hank Mobley is taking a solo. I want the audience concentrating on him, so I walk off the stage. They don't need to be looking at me."
As you've no doubt noticed, my original notes were not too voluminous. For one thing I was given little information about Coltrane. I did not know of the experience he gathered in the bands of King Kolax, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Earl Bostic, and Johnny Hodges. When I first saw him he was playing alto sax in Dizzy Gillespie's big band in 1949. When Diz broke up the band in 1950 and reverted to a small group, he put Trane on tenor.
When Miles first came out Nat Hentoff, in his Down Beat review, gave Miles high marks but while agreeing with my description in the notes that Coltrane's style was "a mixture of Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Stitt." (I now disagree with myself on Rollins but I must have heard something at the time that I don't hear now; my naming of Stitt was motivated by Sonny's phraseology on tenor more so than alto. And of course we know that Bird was Trane's influence early on.)
Anyway, Hentoff groused about Trane's "lack of individuality" and complained that Red Garland played with one hand too much. Coltrane took most of the early bashing by critics, but Garland was sometimes dismissed as a "cocktail lounge" pianist, and Philly Joe Jones was cited for playing "too loud."
Musicians and the hip, inner circle of listeners caught on more swiftly and the quintet rapidly, as a group and as individuals, became one of the most influential aggregations in jazz."