Track Selection: A Night in Tunisia (Gillespie/Paparelli)
Selected because it’s a tune I can’t get enough of.
I read Gillespie turned down a generous offer from the Tunisian National Tourist Board, to rename the tune Two Nights in Tunisia, with full board, inclusive of airport charges and taxes, from only…
Miles Davis (t) Red Garland (p) Oscar Pettiford (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, June 7, 1955
An often overlooked album in the vast catalog of Miles Davis,The Musings of Miles was Miles’ first 12″ LP, featuring the nucleus of the group that a few months later became his First Great Quintet – retaining Garland and Philly Joe, adding John Coltrane, but replacing Pettiford with Paul Chambers.
The song titles on Musings includes “I Didn’t,” Miles riposte to Thelonious Monk’s song “Well, You Needn’t” – a sly reference to the earlier spat between Davis and Monk during recording of Miles Davis and the Modern Giants, in which Miles requested Monk “lay out” (refrain from playing) during his solo, following which Monk triggered a false start by asking Davis when he should start playing. Bristling egos, ruffled feathers! Great!
The interpretations are lyrical and melodic and, in the absence of a saxophone, focussed on Miles’ warm and muted sound.
Miles Davis Chronology:
Miles Davis & the Modern Jazz Giants (1954) Walkin’ (1954) The Musings of Miles (1955) Round About Midnight (1955) Cookin’ (1955) Blue Haze (1956)
Workin’ (1956) Steamin’ (1956) Relaxin’ (1956) Milestones (1958) Kind of Blue (1959). Positioned just before the rash of albums with the missing “g” required to fulfil his contractual requirements to Prestige before moving to greener pastures with Columbia.
Vinyl: PRLP 7007 Second pressing (Bergenfield NJ). The recording was first issued in 1955 was subsequently reissued in 1962 as PRLP 7221 retitled “The Beginning”. This appears to be that second press but features a PRLP 7007 Side A label on both sides, makes no mention of the revised catalogue number, and has what appears to be an original cover of 7007, all of which makes me think we have been here before, like transitional Blue Notes. What if it wasn’t a mistake to have two side A labels. What if they didn’t care, and just used up the stock of 7007 Side A in the absence of Side B and old 7007 covers. Am I missing something (apart from my marbles)?
The cover is remarkable for its complete absence of typography (iconic photo of Miles, you are expected to know who it is), and the presence I am told of a Neumann U-47 microphone (branded Telefunken in the US) , which I am informed is the early model, due to its elongated body – hat tip Marc, who knows these things, if I got that right.
Apart from the legendary Mobley BLP 1568 (left) I couldn’t find any microphones on my Blue Note covers, and I am told Rudy Van Gelder was extremely secretive about his microphone techniques and the Mobley 1568 is a fake pose for photographic purpose. “If you were recording Hank you wouldn’t put that mic there” says my inside informant.
The Microphone: Neumann U47 The microphone of choice of Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles. Introduced in 1949, it offered a quality sound studio engineers were looking for, with a big warm tone but a lift around 8 KHz – brighter, more detailed sound than other microphones of the time. Its advanced multipattern technology was made possible by a dual diaphragm M7 capsule, which by altering the polarizing voltage the two back-to-back cardioid capsules could be combined to create an omni pattern or used singly for a cardioid pickup. Obviously. But the most important element in producing that sound was the now legendary Telefunken VF-14M pentode vacuum tube, a steel tube originally built for German army field radios, some say. So there you have it – from the folks that brought you World War II, legendary recording technology.
Mercury Records promoted the U 47 as its Living Presence microphone, putting the mic’s image on many of its record covers, so it is entirely possible that with Musings of Miles you are looking at sneaky Telefunken product placement. Production of the tube-based U47 microphone came to an end in 1965, when it was replaced by one with transistors, U47fet, marking a shift in technology and an end to “end to end” analogue quality recording.
Between them, the Neumann U47 and its “rival’ the AKG C12 introduced in 1953 (and it’s predecessor the C2) probably account in large measure for the quality of sound of recorded acoustic instruments in Modern Jazz 1956-66. Not to be confused with the iconic battery-powered tricycle, the Sinclair C5, which made very little contribution, if any.
Source: From the private collection of the late Brian Clark (see Collectors Corner for Roy Haynes Out of the Afternoon). The Google Books online Goldmine estimate a NM first pressing of Musings on Yellow W 50th St label to be worth $400, but a 1962 press on Bergenfield NJ PR 7221 only $50. A bargain.
The back of the sleeve is stamped with a logo KJAER. A quick search of “Kjaer” pulls up some very fishy connections, once more pointing to our old friend, Denmark:
- A Danish vehicle supplier to the foreign aid and overseas development sector,
- a Danish professional football player,
- The Danish head of The European Wind Energy Association
So far I have a Danish group wanting to supply third-world dictators with more luxury black limousines, and a source of renewable energy from wind turbines strapped to Scandinavian footballers. Perhaps it makes sense in Danish, though it sounds more like something that would appeal to the Norwegians. But how does it connect to Miles Davis? Was he secretly Norwegian?