"I was the engineer on the recording sessions and I also made the masters for the original LP issues of these albums. Since the advent of the CD, other people have been making the masters. Mastering is the final step in the process of creating the sound of the finished product. Now, thanks to the folks at the Concord Music Group who have given me the opportunity to remaster these albums, I can present my versions of the music on CD using modern technology. I remember the sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound, and I remember their reactions to the playbacks. Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger.”
—Rudy Van Gelder
Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet is in every way a masterpiece. When the trumpeter (1926-1991) had formed the band in 1955, his colleagues—tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones—were not considered jazz-world A-listers. And before conquering his narcotics addiction earlier in the Fifties, Davis had seen his once-promising career go into eclipse. By 1956, however, his sound, especially when muted, was an achingly personal counterpart to the vocals of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. Relaxin’ (plus its Prestige companions, Miles, Cookin’, Workin’, and Steamin’) reestablished Davis, and elevated his quintet as the gold standard of small groups.
With its accent on bright tempos, from medium-bounce to crisply up, Relaxin’ remains one of Davis’s sunniest outings, a prime example of one of the outstanding ensembles of the 20th century reaching the summit of their artistry.