Miles Davis: Blue Moods (1955) Fantasy


Selection: Alone Together (Dietz/Schwartz)


Miles Davis (tpt) Britt Woodman (trb) Teddy Charles (vib) Charles Mingus (b) Elvin Jones (d) Audio-Video Studios, NYC, July 9, 1955


An interesting line up of the young Miles Davis, with Mingus and Elvin Jones in support, no tenor sax to crowd Miles’s front line, but silky trombone and cool vibes lending the blue mood to classic Fifties cool jazz.

The Debut original

220px-Blue_Moods_(Miles_Davis_album)According to the original sleeve notes, the relatively short playing time of the album was because the recording was cut at 160 lines per inch (instead of the usual 210 to 260) making the grooves wider and deeper and to allow more area for bass frequencies, the extended bass range “giving the listener more quality to that of high fidelity tape recording”.

One would never guess that Debut was founded by  a well-known …umm… bass player, Charles Mingus.

The signature

About that writing on the cover. It says “Miles Davis” Here are some other samples of Miles signature, which purport to be genuine (or are at least good forgeries):

MD Capture


miles davis auutog

The Chase Manhattan signature had better be genuine, or Mr Davis will be asked to step into the manager’s office.

So what’s your verdict? Mine says the Fantasy signature is just “Writing on Cover”. Looking at a few on-line examples, the D in Davis always starts with a single down straight stroke, not a circular swirl If you are going to forge a signature at least make a half-decent attempt. It was priced on the assumption of forgery.

The vinyl however is most certainly genuine red vinyl, no mistaking that. Not sure when this vintage red vinyl was pressed, possibly late Fifties, early Sixties?

Vinyl: Debut  DEB 120; DEP 27/28 Miles Davis – Blue Moods, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 Debut recordings reissued on Fantasy LP 6001, which is itself a “vintage pressing”. Cover is stamped as a promo.

Fantasy is a less well understood label, at least to this innocent  collector, so press forward with a little research. Concord Music provides a little of the history: In the 1940’s, brothers Max and Sol Weiss operated a San Francisco plastic moulding business that included a record pressing plant, the Circle Record Company (LJC: so no excuses, they of all people should know about vinyl pressing)  One of their early clients was Dave Brubeck, and following the success of his records, the Weiss’s the pressing plant metamorphosed into a record label, which they named Fantasy after a popular science-fiction magazine. Another label similarly adopted a science fiction theme, Galaxy.

In 1967, a group of investors headed by Fantasy sales manager Saul Zaentz purchased the company.  Zaentz pursued a policy of acquiring independent jazz labels, among the first, the almighty Debut Records. Debut had been founded by Mingus in the Fifties as a vehicle to allow jazz musicians to control their own music. When Charles and wife Celia Mingus separated in 1958, Celia moved to San Francisco, where she went to work for, and eventually married, Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records. Game set and match.

Fantasy went on to acquire Good Time, Prestige (1971), Riverside and Milestone (1972) and Contemporary (1984), thus becoming the repository of a large proportion of American Jazz history, the part not owned by Blue Note.

Fantasy 10th and ParkerFrom its headquarters at the corner of Tenth and Parker, Berkeley, California, over two decades Fantasy reissued much of that legacy, gifting us with indifferent quality vinyl pressing and lacklustre design.

The original Fantasy Record label on which many Debut recordings were reissued are quite acceptable. Not all of them are red, an artistic choice probably inspired by breathing too much San Francisco air.



Collectors Corner

Envy rating 1smug-index-1-cool-1


Blue Moods, red vinyl, is that hot or cool?   It makes it more difficult to assess for surface damage and grade the vinyl, whilst not helping anything in any way..

Source: London record shop.

24 thoughts on “Miles Davis: Blue Moods (1955) Fantasy

    • my copy is flat edged with H 19 in the dead wax. The labels are detached on either side, but look rather like non-DG. Just some sort of round edge as later NJ pressings. On the wax under the labels no DG, but just a rim.
      This is of course is no reply to your question, since my copy may, or may not be, an original Deb 120. To establish the originality of my copy we need expert knowledge. I don’t feel qualified.

      • P.S.
        I compared with DEB-121 (John Dennis), which is exactly the same: no DG, flat edge, and, like 120, a small round rim around the hole, the size of a US 10 cents piece. This one no H 19 in dead wax.

        • ah, so Rudolf self defines unqualified? just as stating Bob Dylan is a classic violinist or Blue Note are yellow or Bethlehem is an Heavy Metal label.
          we all DO know how many puzzles have been solved by you, thanks.
          when I bought Deb 120 from eBay, it was described as deep groove.
          I never saw this record with dg and have seen several: all were not pleasant at listening for the known pressing problems. when this last copy came in, it was NO dg. what to do? send it back as no matching with description or keep it as for the first time it had a more than good sound?
          I decided to keep it but wasn’t fully sure it was an original.
          most of my several Debut 10″ have dg, a few haven’t but for all of them a dg version exists.
          it seems unlikely the short lived Debut had the opportunity of reprinting some of the numbers before being sold to Fantasy and in a different shape.
          so this mystery remains unsolved yet.
          My Deb 120 matches perfectly with Rudolf’s.

          • dottore: you say it yourself: you have seen several DEB-120 copies. I only one. So who is more qualified?
            So, if all of them, and the succeeding catalogue number DEB-121, are non-DG, we can assume with reasonable certainty, that # 120 was only issued as non-DG. You have done right in keeping your near perfect copy, but, I for one, would have asked for a rebate since the item was not according to description.

  1. On my way home with a French pressing of this on the America label. No coloured vinyl but it has a foldback cover, so I was thinking it might be a fairly early pressing. when I get home I’ll have a quick google and a listen, but does anyone know anything?

  2. Not that long ago I picked up a Danish mono pressing of this with an alternate cover. Still waiting to get it and give it a listen but looking forward to it.

    By the way, is it just me or does your sample almost sound like there’s a slight warp or something? Occasionally noticed a warbled sound that stood out more in the vibes and trumpet…

    • A lot of these early rips were done on a Numark USB turntable, that was dodgy at the best of times. More recently I have established a USB link to my genuine h fi system. Sorry about the early quality issue, we learn as we go along.

      • No problem, thanks for letting me know. So long as the record sounds fine that’s all that matters right? I’m hopeful the Danish pressing sounds good but we shall soon see, er, hear!

  3. Sunday morning and I’m just playing a mono Vocalion /Vogue pressing of this. Wonderful stuff. This is a slightly later UK licensed pressing, I guess — the Ralph Gleason sleeve notes are dated 1962. I remember I hadn’t heard NAture Boy until 1999 when I heard it. As part of the soundtrack of Anthony Minghella’s The talented Mr Ripley… And then in those pre-LJC — my God, almost pre-internet! — days I forgot all about it. This post reminded me and I set about finding a copy. It was Nature Boy I really wanted — but then I didn’t know what a terrific track Easy Living was!

    Now onto an RTI mono MILESTONES from (I believe) record store day 2013. Certainly beats the Sony CBS masterworks digital remaster I did have (80s vintage vinyl, I believe). Miles’s lean, narrow-eyed solo on Sid’s Ahead is utterly iconic.

    • alun: this Debut album of Miles, recorded in 1955 was issued simultaneously on a 10″ U.K. Vogue album, with the same cover art as the corresponding French Swing album; the latter in 12″ format. After the demise of Debut in the US, San Francisco based Fantasy acquired the rights on the Debut catalogue and issued some material around 1962. These were again issued in Britain by Vocalion/Vogue.

  4. Talking Miles Davis I have come across LP called collectors item Miles Davis leads on all tracks with among others Sonny Rollins Philly Joe Jones it is on Esquire label is this a copy of a more sought after label tracks recorded 1953 1956

  5. I generally try to avoid the colored vinyl. I heard once upon a time that the colored ones lack a certain chemical compound that black vinyl has and then tend to sound noisier. The inverse of the story of why the japanese vinyl is quieter than U.S. vinyl as their government allows them to add certain chemicals that are banned in the U.S. Who knows.

    Of course if stumbled across Dexter Blows Hot and Cool in original red Dooto, I could compromise my values.

  6. I have it on CD, as is usually the case with gems like this and even on the back it literally says to ‘please note the short playing time’. There’s no explanation for this however, let alone that it says anything about the way the vinyl was cut. Interesting bit of info though, I wasn’t aware of the 210 to 260 lines practice of cutting…

  7. Interesting purchase.
    By the way, I just ditched my copy of this album, retaining the original Debut and the French Swing (Vogue) issue of same, both 1955 vintage.
    The Fantasy Debut was issued in 1962. First pressings in red wax, later pressings on black vinyl. Fake stereo in blue wax, later on black.
    This is superb mood music and worth retaining in two copies, I keep saying to myself, three being overdone.
    The French Swing LDM 30.035 (a 30 cm LP) has a magnificent cover in light blue with Miles sketched in black and with some white. No credit to the cover artist. Simultaneously, in the U.K. Vogue issued the original Debut on a 25 cm LP (LDE 191), using the same cover art as Swing/Vogue (France). Later on, Vogue U.K. re-issued the session in their Fantasy/debut series on Vocalion LAE-F 584, using the Fantasy cover art.
    Teddy Charles’ presence is felt all-over. Charles Mingus is doing some marvelous things. Britt is as languorous as Miles and one wonders why Miles was bombarded as the leader of the group. It is really a joint effort.

  8. The earliest Fantasy pressings are a mixed bag, sound-wise. The original 10″ pressings were red, blue, green, or purple vinyl. The purples look particularly cool. With the 12″ pressings (starting in 1955), all new pressings were in dark red, stiff, noisy vinyl, which often sounds terrible, even in top condition, although they are hard to find in top condition. New releases (and immediate represses) were pressed in (much better quality) black vinyl in 1957-58 (with the same red and gold label). So, ironically, for a 1956 release, you are probably better off (at least for audio quality) getting a black-vinyl second pressing. The early pressings also have a flat edge (I think).

    Thereafter, it was back to (much better quality) light translucent red vinyl until the early ’60s. Fantasy introduced stereo in 1962 (I think) – that label was blue and the vinyl was lovely light translucent blue. I personally like the looks of these quite a bit! Then, onto black vinyl (just as the mono).

    • Joe L.:
      10″ Fantasy came also on black vinyl.
      I have first pressing 12″ Fantasy also in purple and green wax and black flamed red wax, besides black vinyl pressings and the regular red wax. The black vinyl originals, as the coloured wax originals, are stiff and inflexible, with flat edges and DG. The later black vinyl and red wax re-issues from ’58 on are thin, flexible, no flat rim, no DG, but less scratchy, as you say.

      • Don’t know why I did not mention the black vinyl 10″ pressings, as I have one.

        How do the Debut pressings compare (audio-quality-wise) to the later Fantasy pressings? I have not had the pleasure of listening to a Debut.

  9. I have been eyeing a reported VG+ copy of this at a local shop, black vinyl though at a slightly inflated price. One day I may pull the trigger…. and try to haggle the price down.

    I like Mingus and Jones playing on this. Not a common occurrence alongside Mr Davis.

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