Next up is one of my favorite versions of this standard, adapted from George Gershiwn’s opera, “Porgy and Bess”. Here Miles Davis in conjunction with composer/arranger Gil Evans give a stirring rendition of “Summertime”, from the album named after the opera, Porgy and Bess.
Miles Ahead was released on 21 October 1957. It was 31-year-old Miles Davis’ first collaboration with arranger Gil Evans since the “Birth of the Cool” recording sessions in 1950.
Evans utilized a 19-piece orchestra – consisting of 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 3 French horns, as well as bass, clarinet, drums, flute, piano, saxophone, and tuba – with Davis playing the flugelhorn, and the only soloist on the recording.
Davis was reportedly displeased with the original album cover (“Why’d you put that white bitch on there?” Davis reportedly joked to the Columbia Records producer) and subsequent pressings included a photo of Davis on the cover).
Ryan Truesdell, who has recorded two magnificently executed and recorded albums of Gil Evans scores, identifies some hidden gems in Gil’s canon, including the Gerry Mulligan Sextet recording of La Plus Que Lente, which appears on our Mosaic LP set Gerry Mulligan: The Emarcy Sextet Recordings (3008). Honestly, until Ryan’s column, I didn’t even know this was Gil’s arrangement!
“In the late sixties, he became intrigued with a young musician named Jimi Hendrix. He saw in Hendrix what he had seen in Charlie Parker twenty years earlier; a fountainhead of pure inspired knowledge.”