Relaxin’ with Miles Davis (1956)

 Track selection: “I Could Write a Book”


Miles Davis (t), John Coltrane (ts), Red Garland (p), Paul Chambers (b), Philly Joe Jones (d); Recorded October 26th, 1956.


Track Selection is from the stage play “Guys and Dolls”, with excellent solo’s from Coltrane and Garland. Solid bop, happy music. For anyone preferring a more intellectual analysis, wiki suggests ” it emphasizes the Miles Davis’ concentrated ballad-style playing with his medium-register trumpet”

The record includes snippets of studio conversation which add a nice touch. A performance by a group of people, recorded by another group of people, ao it could be listened to by yet another group of people. Frozen for all time on record, a piece of history for our enjoyment..

There was a spate of  Miles albums recorded between May and October,1956, whose titles all contain the essential street-talk n-apostrophe: Steamin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’, an’ Workin’. . Miles is happy whichever you prefer. Seen here outside Prestige Records, with a copy of Relaxin’ prominent in the window display, as well as a few others I recognise, like Jackie McLean and Bill Hardman’s Jackies Pal, the ever so rare Moondog. Miles stylish round-collar shirt, and an even more stylish automobile reflected in the window.

We rarely see original Prestige come to light in the UK, mainly because Esquire Records was channel for the UK release of Prestige recordings, so few if any were imported. The original US Prestige cover seen in the window is more cubist than cartoon.

Vinyl: Esquire 32-068 UK release of Prestige PRLP 7129

RVG stamp and a prominent stamper of mother code “3”, not AB (Abbey Manufacturing, NJ)

The nicotine stains around the spindle hole of my copy indicate the previous owner was a heavy smoker. They say such copies turn up on the market much sooner than non-smoker copies. Or so the actuarial statistics suggest.


Collectors Corner

Found in a  record store in London’s West End, which is itself unusual, in that it puts out in the racks everything including the occasional gem like this. Other dealers are fly enough to sell high-value collectibles on the side through eBay to maximise the price, but this is a high-footfall store. It buys a lot of vinyl and sells a lot, depends on volume to pay the rent. It must be a succesful formula as I have been shopping there for probably twenty or thirty years and they are still going strong.  But you have to be quick and visit frequently to catch one, as they fly off the shelf in hours.

8 thoughts on “Relaxin’ with Miles Davis (1956)

  1. Pingback: PopSpotsNYC: Tracking Down Where Classic Album Covers Were Photographed in NYC | Untapped Cities

  2. Danger! Mine of information ahead!
    Thanks for that George. I occasionally drive through New Malden. I will see it in a new light from now on. Mecca for Decca.

    Mono is my preferred format unless it’s Japanese, or there is a good musical reason for it.
    I had the misfortune to pick up a stereo copy of Coleman Hawkins Hawk Flies High the other week.Hawkins trapped in the left speaker, loud, all forty minutes, with weak piano comping in the centre, and even weaker drums trapped in the right speaker. Horrid. You just wanted to slap the engineer “and don’t you dare do it again!”

    Esquire are scrumptious, but luckily a lot of people don’t know that. Shhhh…strictly entre nous.

  3. Esquire issues of the US Prestige label will usually have the initials RVG on the dead wax. This shows that they were pressed from metalwork made by Rudy Van Gelder and will sound as good as the US original issues. Loved by musicians for the sound he got on tape, Van Gelder also had a cutting lathe and cut directly from his own tapes, preserving the sound he had captured. Google him, there is masses of information.
    In fact RVG Esquires usually sound better than US original Prestiges. Prestige were notorious for cheapskate manufacture using recycled vinyl and shoddy card covers.
    Esquire covers last better, and they used spare capacity at the high quality Decca (New Malden) and EMI (Hayes) pressing plants for the pressings. The only drawback is that Esquire issued in mono only – but some regard even that as a plus as there is a school of thought that prefers the sound of the mono issues.
    I would rank these above ALL other issues.

  4. a classic Miles recording , good one even if i don’t really love miles trp. sound.
    there are so many releases for this recording…take a look, i pasted the info from AMG:

    Year Type label Catalog #
    1990 CD Fantasy/OJC 1902
    1990 LP Fantasy/OJC 190
    1991 CD Original Jazz Classics 190
    1991 LP Prestige Records 190
    1991 CS Prestige/OJC OJC-5190
    1991 CD Prestige/OJC OJCCD-190-2
    1994 CD Victor Records 60125
    1998 CD JVC Victor 60125
    1998 CD Ace 201902
    2001 CD Prestige Records 7129
    2002 CD JVC Victor 60266
    2003 CD Prestige Records 61047
    2004 CD Prestige Records 7129
    2004 CD JVC Victor VICJ-41025
    2006 CD Prestige Records 8104
    2006 CD JVC Compact Discs 41025
    2006 CD JVC Victor 41605
    2007 CD Madacy 53061
    2008 CD Universal Distribution UCCO9212
    2009 LP Hi Horse Records 190

    i wonder what really made this recording to be released so many times…
    by the way if i could write a book is a lovely melody, very catchy and easy to memorize as a player. the harmony is a standard jazz (TWO FIVE ONE’S AS A BASIC THING).
    nice solos 🙂

    • That’s a lot of editions and don’t even include the DCC on I have 😉
      Why so many? I just think the music is reallt great. Something just locked in on this recording sessions. Not overplanned and sounds quite spontaneous. Miles did these recordings as a way to get out of the record deal he was in moving to Columbia Records as I’m sure you all are aware of.

  5. Very cool Esquire cover! But the original Prestige cover will for me always be connected with this music. Don’t have this on vinyl but atleast I have the best sounding CD-version in the DCC Gold edition. Stunning to say the least!

  6. Another great recording. As with so many other gems I have this one on CD. What I like best about this session, is how “fat” Paul Chambers’ bass is placed in the mix. It’s tight and clearly audible; you can hear every single note that he plucks out of his strings. And don’t we all agree that Davis’ voice sounds rough, rugged and raw?

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