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Miles Ahead session details

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November 27, 1968 (14 items; TT = 77:52)
Columbia Studio B, New York NY
Commercial for Columbia
Show chatter

Miles Davis (tpt); Wayne Shorter (ss, ts); Chick Corea (el-p); Herbie Hancock (el-p); Josef Zawinul (el-p, org); Dave Holland (b, el-b); Jack De Johnette (d, perc); Teo Macero (perc)

1 Ascent (take 1) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 4:44
2 Ascent (take 2) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 2:28
3 Ascent (take 3) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 4:42
4 Ascent (take 4) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 4:35

Issued as part of composite take
5 Ascent (take 6) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 3:49
6 Ascent (take 7) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 3:30
7 Ascent (take 8) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 5:09

Issued as part of composite take
8 Ascent (take 11) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 2:37

Issued as part of composite take
9 Ascent (new take 1) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 2:38

Issued as part of composite take
10 Ascent (new take 2) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 2:32
11 Ascent (composite take (original)) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 14:40

Splices at 4:35, 9:40, and 12:04
12 Ascent (composite take (corrected)) (J. Zawinul-M. Davis) 14:52

Splices at 4:35, 9:44, and 12:16
13 Directions (take 12) (J. Zawinul) 6:46
14 Directions (new take 6) (J. Zawinul) 4:50


11 Ascent (composite take (original))
12" LP: Columbia KC2 36474, CBS/Sony 38AP 2017/8
CD: CBS/Sony CSCS 5135/6, Sony SRCS 9310/1, Sony SRCS 9761/2, Sony SICP 35/7, Sony SICP 924/6, Columbia Legacy 86975 24922

12 Ascent (composite take (corrected))
12" LP: Mosaic MQ5-209
CD: Columbia C3K 65362, Columbia C3K 90921, Sony SICP 35/7, Sony SICP 924/6

13 Directions (take 12)
12" LP: Columbia KC2 36474, CBS/Sony 38AP 2017/8, Mosaic MQ5-209
CD: Columbia C3K 65362, Columbia C3K 90921, CBS/Sony CSCS 5135/6, Sony SRCS 9310/1, Sony SRCS 9761/2, Sony SICP 35/7, Sony SICP 924/6, Columbia Legacy 86975 24922

14 Directions (new take 6)
12" LP: Columbia KC2 36474, CBS/Sony 38AP 2017/8, Mosaic MQ5-209
CD: Columbia C3K 65362, Columbia C3K 90921, Columbia CK 65449, CBS/Sony CSCS 5135/6, Sony SRCS 9310/1, Sony SRCS 9761/2, Sony SICP 35/7, Sony SICP 924/6, Columbia Legacy 86975 24922


Some of the "Ascent" takes are very tentative (e.g., listen at 2:17 of take 1, where the keyboards seem to lose their place, and at 2:56, where Holland prompts the keyboards for the chords). In take 8, despite this being his first recording on soprano saxophone, Shorter plays a beautiful solo. Davis's solo in take 11 is reminiscent of his playing with Gil Evans -- was Evans involved in this session?

"Ascent" -- listed in the logs as "Untitled," and in the Columbia files as "untitled Zawinul composition" -- was recorded in parts. The structure of the issued version is as follows:

LP version issued on Directions (Columbia KC2 36472)
0:00-4:35 Take 4, 0:00-4:35 (no horns, De Johnette plays tambourine)
4:35-9:39 Take 8, 0:00-5:04 (ss solo)
9:39-12:02 Take 11, 0:07-2:31 (tpt solo)
12:02-14:40 New take 1, 0:06-2:39 (tpt solo)

CD version included in Complete In a Silent Way Sessions (Columbia C3K 65632)
0:00-4:35 Take 4, 0:00-4:35 (no horns, De Johnette plays tambourine)
4:35-9:44 Take 8, 0:00-5:08 (ss solo)
9:44-12:16 Take 11, 0:07-2:38 (tpt solo)
12:16-14:52 New take 1, 0:06-2:39 (tpt solo)

Crossfades in the original version of "Ascent" (at 9:39-943 and 12:02-12:08) resulted in several missing measures. Mosaic MQ5-209 and Columbia C3K 65362 correct this with clean edits that preserve the proper phrasing and metrical structure of the piece. Note the additional 12 seconds (14:52 vs. 14:40).

Items 1-3 are sometimes identified with rejected interludes from the November 12 session, and items 5-6 with the unissued interludes from the November 25 session. Jan Lohmann has convinced me that they belong here. The mood, instrumentation, and playing is similar throughout, and it makes good sense that these items belong together. The question then becomes, what has happened to the interludes from those earlier sessions?

The other short take with a Davis solo (new take 2) was not used.

Hancock is out on both takes of "Directions"; Zawinul takes his place on electric piano. This tune entered the live book immediately -- it was performed at Boston's Jazz Workshop in early December, and Davis continued to perform it as a set-opener until late 1971.

This is Jack De Johnette's first studio session with Davis. He was brought in at Tony Williams's recommendation. Williams was eager to form his own group, which he finally did in early 1969.

Thanks to Jan Lohmann for help with this session.

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