Miles Davis: Bemsha Swing

Track

Bemsha Swing

Group

Miles Davis (with Thelonious Monk)

CD

Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (Prestige OJCCD-347-2)

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Musicians:

Miles Davis (trumpet), Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums), Thelonious Monk (piano).

Recorded: Hackensack, N.J., December 24, 1954

Albumcovermilesdavisandthemodernjazzgiants

Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Miles Davis’s Christmas Eve 1954 session was the one where, legend had it, Miles instructed Monk to “lay out” while the trumpeter soloed. It’s hard to believe – really, if Miles was offended by Monk’s playing, why would he hire him for the date? But that’s not the point. This may be Miles’s record, but “Bemsha Swing” is Monk’s song (well, Monk’s and Denzil Best’s). Monk comps like a yeoman while the others solo, but when it comes his turn to solo he turns in a beauty – faithful to the composition, faithful to Miles’s desires, but Monkish all the way in its off-kilter rhythmic feel and contrapuntal notes. A rare, wonderful glimpse at Monk as sideman.

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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