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Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers ,bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, October 28, 1956
In later half of 1956, before jumping ship to Columbia, Miles Davis was rushing to fulfil his contractual commitments to Prestige. Over just a few days in May and October, the Quintet amassed enough material to fill several albums, which Alfred Weinstock expeditiously released to capitalise on Miles’ rising stock. The titles shared a common jive-talk vernacular popular in Harlem, assuring their street smart provenance – Workin’, Steamin’, Diggin’ Relaxin’ and Cookin’. These five titles effectively finalised Miles First Great Quintet’s playbook.
What is not widely known that there was enough material remaining to fill just one more album in excess of Miles contractual obligations. Weinstock shrewdly held back until the coast was clear. Davis was increasingly preoccupied with Gil Evans Spanish-themed arrangements, which left some hardcore bop enthusiasts Out in the Cool. Weinstock requested Van Gelder master a sixth title, unknown to Davis. Van Gelder was only to willing to oblige, as Miles had now moved to recording at the rival Columbia studio on 30th Street.
An advance batch of the sixth album, which Weinstein ironically titled “Honkin’ “, was pressed at Abbey Manufacturing in August 1958, at exactly the time Prestige was moving to new offices at 203 South Washington Avenue, Bergenfield N.J. It appears the box of Honkin’ copies destined for radio station promos was mistakenly delivered to Prestige’s previous offices at 446 West 50th Street. Lost and forgotten with the move.
The unmarked box eventually fell into the hands of Fantasy executives, who acquired the Van Gelder masters, and decided to give the title an official release. Miles by this time was heavily into electric fusion, and sales of Honkin’ were disappointing. However All-Music awarded it four stars, as part of the hitherto undiscovered legacy of the First Davis Quintet.
Vinyl: Prestige PRLP 7863 mono
Black/yellow Fireworks labels, Bergenfield address, AB Abbey Mfg. etching.
The outstanding pick Goosin’ is accompanied by previously unreleased material including the cheeky bopper “Moonin’ “, and the Eco-friendly Broadway hit “It’s Only a Paper Mug” (widely recyclable).
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Davis Quintet Final Prestige Sessions 1956, Concord commissioned David Gray at Incoherent Studios to re-master the complete series, from the original tapes, including the newly discovered master tape of Honkin’. Pressed by Sub-Optimal in Germany, The Complete Prestige 1st Davis 5tet 75th 6LP Limited Edition Box-set is a must for any serious collector.
To launch the new boxset, Concord have sent me ten promo copies of Honkin’ to give away to LJC readers. To give everyone a chance of winning a copy, whatever their time-zone, I have organised a prize draw. Simply click on the “like”button at the foot of this post, once, before noon GMT April 1st, and you will be entered automatically into the special prize draw.
The ten lucky winners will be notified by What’sUp after the draw closes, so click away, and you too could soon be Honkin’ ! What’s that smell? The Smell of Success.
Nature Conservation Warranty: no Canadian geese were harmed in the preparation of this recording.