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Someday My Prince


Miles Davis
Someday My Prince Will Come



2. OLD FOLKS (5:14)

3. PFRANCING (8:31)

4. DRAD-DOG (4:29)

5. TEO (9:34)



Miles Davis - trumpet
John Coltrane, Hank Mobley - tenor sax
Wynton Kelly - piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Jimmy Cobb, Philly Joe Jones - drums

Recorded March 7, 20, and 21, 1961 at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York.

When the first, great Miles Davis quintet (John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones) finally coalesced into the next definite unit, there were changes at every instrumental position excepting the leader's and bass, where the redoubtable Chambers remained a fixture. In March of 1959, when Kind Of Blue was taped, it was a sextet with Cannonball Adderley and Coltrane (who had returned to the fold after his sojourn with Thelonious Monk) as the saxophonists. Wynton Kelly shared the piano duties with Bill Evans, and Jimmy Cobb, who had joined in 1958, was the drummer.

By the time Davis went back into the studio with a small band on March 7, 1961, Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb were an empathic rhythmic entity, and ex -Messenger Hank Mobley, in the midst of a great run of Blue Note albums under his own leadership, had replaced Sonny Stitt on tenor sax. With these exceptional men in place music was made, in three separate sessions, that was issued as Someday My Prince Will Come on Columbia CL 1656.

When I reviewed the album in the April 26, 1962 issue of down beat, my negative criticisms were concerned more with lack of information and confusing titling than with the music, which I awarded four and a half stars.

In his book, Miles: The Autobiography (Simon & Schuster), Davis, in referring to this album, says: "Next I got rid of all them stupid liner notes which I had been trying to do for a long time. See, I never thought there was nothing nobody could say about an album of mine.”

Here it was carried to such an extreme that nowhere was it indicated who played on what track, the players in question being the tenorists, Mobley and Coltrane. With both present on the title number it seemed that overdubbing was involved. Twenty-eight years after the fact, Miles shed some light on the mystery in his autobiography when he wrote: "I brought in Coltrane on three or four of those tunes and Philly Joe to play on one .... Teo Macero, my producer, had started to splice tape together on Porgy And Bess and then on Sketches Of Spain, and he did it on this album, too. We post-recorded solos on those albums, with Trane and me doing some extra horn work."

However, Jimmy Cobb's recollection is of Coltrane, having finished a gig at the Apollo Theater, coming to the session, unpacking his horn, and soloing off a vamp that Miles set up for him. Jimmy also remembers "Philly Joe and I playing on different takes of the same number but their using the one I was on."

Whatever methods were employed in the three separate March. 1961 sessions, the musical results are indeed memorable.

"Someday My Prince Will Come” of Walt Disney's Snow White fame, opens with a vamp, and Miles, muted, introduces the theme. Soon he applies his personal interpretation that I described in my review as "wonderful, sweet-and-sour." Mobley is mellow, flowing with an ease and a round sound atypical of the so-called "hard bop" players. After a lyrical Kelly spot, Miles returns with the theme before a vamp leads into Coltrane, who, to quote myself once more, "reaches for and finds unexpected combinations of exquisitely held notes and rich, rapid runs." Following Miles' third theme statement, Wynton muses over the vamp and then just ends it, sans fade.

"Old Folks" is muted, ruminative nostalgia from Miles. As I noted back then, "this set stresses Davis' highly introspective side," and his "Old Folks" solo is fraught with the loneliness, desolation, and sense of loss that he is able to communicate so well. Mobley's contribution is so pretty before Kelly's delicate embroidery leads back to Miles.

Finger snaps precede Wynton's conversation with himself on the theme of "Pfrancing" before Miles further exposes the classic call-and-response motif. And dig his held note on the last eight bars of the chorus. This springy blues (named here for Miles' wife of the time, dancer Frances Taylor), made its debut as "No Blues" on the In Person, Friday And Saturday Night At The Black Hawk album, recorded a month after these sessions but released before them. Miles solos with intensity; Hank's swing is sure-footed and unhurried; Wynton's single-note line is swift and clear, particularly his second offering; and Chambers' plucking highly articulate.

Miles is muted again and reflective on "Drad Dog" {Goddard backwards, for Columbia's then president, Goddard Lieberson). He and Kelly intermingle in a way that shows another side of Wynton's skills as an accompanist, in addition to his excellent comping. Mobley's solo is short but effective with a distant feeling. Wynton continues the ethereal mood and then Miles reenters, crying through his mute, Wynton picking up his thought.

Miles is open, making use of choked notes, on the minor modal "Teo" (called "Neo" on the Black Hawk album), where he echoes essences of Sketches Of Spain. The rhythm section sets the table for Coltrane with a new key center, and he proceeds to blow a building, emotion-packed solo that looks ahead to his own "Ole" (originally "Spanish Tune"), two months down the road. Then it's back to Davis' key as Miles burns a more charged solo than his first go-round, and the track ends with a vamp.

Kelly's introduction on "I Thought About You" eases into Miles' plaintive, muted exposition of Jimmy Van Heusen's timeless melody. Miles is a sensitive singer of songs. Midway in the second chorus he gives way to Mobley's languid lyricism-bop in slo-mo, as it were - before he closes out the chorus, track, and album. I ended my 1962 review by writing about Miles as a blues player and how he was more economical than in some of my favorite, earlier, blues-based recordings. "Just because he is playing less, in terms of notes, doesn't mean his powers have lessened;' I said.

"Anything Davis does is important. This is one to get. And that Coltrane solo on Prince!" Amen - and that extra half star.


Digital Producer: Teo Macero
Digital Remix Engineer: Tim Geelan
Original Recording Produced by Teo Macero
Digital engineering and mastering at CBS Records Studio, New York

Jazz Masterpiece Series Coordination: Mike Berniker, Amy Herot, and Gary Pacheco
Historical Research: Nathaniel Brewster
Package Coordination: Tony Tiller
Art Direction: Allen Weinberg
Cover Photo: CBS Records Photo Files

Originally released as CS 8456
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