Miles Davis: It Could Happen To You
It Could Happen To You
Miles Davis Quintet
Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (OJC 190)
Composed by Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen.
Recorded: Hackensack, NJ, May 11,1956
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
In 1956, with a new recording contract from Columbia (and several recordings already in the can for them), Miles Davis negotiated a deal with Prestige Records to wrap up his current contract: Miles and his quintet would record two marathon sessions consisting of the band’s current repertoire. The music would be recorded as a nightclub set, with little space between tunes, and no retakes unless absolutely necessary. The four resulting albums Cookin’, Relaxin', Workin' and Steamin’ were released over the next four years. Prestige got the albums they wanted, and Miles’ Columbia discography alternated classic small group dates with orchestral collaborations arranged and conducted by Gil Evans.
“It Could Happen To You” was released on Relaxin’ and the mood of the song certainly fits the album title. This is one of several standards in Miles’ book and the treatment is basically the same as on “Bye Bye, Blackbird” recorded for Columbia in the previous year. Miles takes the opening chorus in harmon mute over a bouncy two-beat from the rhythm section. John Coltrane enters next with a slashing “sheets of sound” tenor solo over a wide-open rhythm section in straight 4/4. Red Garland lightens the mood with his delicate piano stylings and Miles comes back to take it out. What makes this recording unique is what happens in each of these episodes: Miles’ solo includes several odd-length phrases which only make sense when they’re all put together, Trane balances his normally rough-hewn style with long and tender melodic phrases, and Garland finds the middle ground between Miles and Trane with a tasty mixture of short and long phrases. And how well the band communicates the spirit of the light-hearted warnings of the unheard lyrics! This was the best jazz group of its day and even a minor toss-off recording by them stands up very well 50-odd years later.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe