Miles Davis: Bess, Oh Where's My Bess


Bess, Oh Where's My Bess


Miles Davis (flugelhorn) and Gil Evans (arranger)


Porgy and Bess (Columbia/Legacy 712764)

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Miles Davis (flugelhorn), Gil Evans (arranger), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Johnny Coles (trumpet), Bernie Glow (trumpet), Louis Mucci (trumpet), Ernie Royal (trumpet), Joe Bennett (trombone), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Frank Rehak (trombone), Dick Hixson (bass trombone), Willie Ruff (French horn), Gunther Schuller (French horn), Julius Watkins (French horn), Bill Barber (tuba), Jerome Richardson (flute), Romeo Penque (flute), Danny Bank (bass clarinet), Cannonball Adderley (alto sax).

Composed by George Gershwin.


Recorded: Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC, August 4, 1958


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

In Act III, Scene 3 of Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess (1935), Porgy returns to Catfish Row after a week in jail that, owing to his crap-shooting prowess, left him flush. Bess, however, is nowhere to be found. In despair, Porgy pleads: "Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess?" A theatrical set piece lasting only 1 minutes, it transcended its stage function thanks to Gershwin's soul-stirring melodicism. Miles Davis and Gil Evans expand the song to 4 minutes, sacrificing the original's urgency in favor of a more subdued but sweeping minidrama, accurately mirroring Porgy's anguish. It's not one of the album's crowning achievements, but this is a long way from filler.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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