Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet – Rudy Van Gelder Remasters – Prestige

by | Mar 12, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet – Rudy Van Gelder Remasters – Prestige PRCD-8104-2, mono 36:00 ****:

(Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)

The 1956 mono recording was another of Miles’ masterpieces. We reviewed it in its SACD form Back Here.  At that time we compared it with a previous gold CD version, and now I’m comparing it with the new Rudy Van Gelder Remaster on standard 44.1 CD – part of a series of such discs just released by Concord/Fantasy.  I’ll confine my remarks to the comparison.

It took some listening to pick out the subtle differences between the two formats.  The first was a tremendously higher level on the new RVG CD.  I found the opening of Track 3 – If I Could Write a Book – a good place to identify differences, because tracks 1, 2 & 4 all begin with studio talk and noises and pauses before the music begins – gets a bit tiresome by the third time.  Miles’ comment about “just playin’ the tune and tellin’ you what it is later” was not lost as I opined in the earlier review, because on the RVG disc it’s back.  Garland’s piano sound is slightly dull on the RVG vs. the SACD, but the big difference is the overtones of the cymbals and high hat on the drum set.  It definitely loses overtones on the RVG – my hearing no longer goes out to 16K but I could clearly discern it.

The mono SACD had more transparency and more high end throughout – once identifying it with the cymbals on Track 3 it was easier to pick out the differences with the other instruments on other tracks. When Coltrane’s sax enters on Track 3 it is much strong and has more impact than on the RVG version. This greater clarity and high end supports the mood of the entire album, which is one of the most generally genial of all of Miles’ efforts.

Tracks: If I Were a Bell, You’re My Everything, I Could Write a Book, Oleo, It Could Happen to You, Woody’n You.

— John Henry

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