The Musings Of Miles


The Preample:

Tequila!  The drink, not the record.

First off, my wife noticed I’ve been using the nonsensical word “preample”  instead of the correct “preamble”.  Oh well, at least I got “postamble” right.

I decided to use Discog’s Random Item button to select a LP for tonight and the rand() gods gave me The Musings of Miles, a six song jazz recorded June 7, 1955 by a quartet fronted by Miles DavisOscar Pettiford on bass, Philly Joe Jones on skins, Red Garland on piano and of course Miles on trumpet.  The Obi says something about this being the forerunner of the Miles Davis Quintet.  Originally released on Prestige, this is the 1982 reissue from Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series.

After I took the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some Thin Lizzy and Lenny Kravitz while sipping on 1800 Reposado.  With Miles coming up, who says that jazz and tequila don’t mix?

The Record:

Artist: Miles Davis

Title: The Musings Of Miles

Label: “Original Jazz Series” / Prestige…and distributed by Fantasy

Year: 1982 OJC reissue, originally pressed in 1955

Catalog: OJC-004 / P-7007

Country: USA

Notes: Great condition record.  The cover’s a solid VG+, just a few weird orange spots on the back jacket away from a NM grade.  Side 1 is mint and if it wasn’t for a very lite scuff/scratch on the flipside it would be a NM record.  As it stands, giving it a VG+.  It’s got the original shrink wrap and Obi.  The Obi states the original price of $5.98.  There are two dated price stickers; $4.99 in December 1985 and $2.99 in February 1986.  Some record store really really needed to clear some shelf space for those indestructible CDs everyone wanted I guess.

I don’t know the full arrangement between Fantasy’s OJC series and the original labels, but there seems to be quite a bit of Prestige reissues in this series.  I tend to stick with the older OJC pressings with the OBIs as the new, sealed ones have Scorpio written over them.  This old one’s got George Horn’s initials in the deadwax, so it’s legit.   Who knows what’s on the newer ones.  One day my curiosity will peak and I’ll grab one.

Oh yeah…although not listed anywhere on the record, its mono.


Side 1 – OJC 004 A-T1- T1 GH

Side 2 – OJC 004 B-T1- T1 GH

Mastering: George Horn

Pressing Plant: ?


The Accompaniment: 

I work with an associate in Mexico City which brings me a bottle of reposado every time he’s in Toronto, which is one or twice a year.   I’m not going to lie; it’s a nice fringe benefit.  Tequila’s not overly expensive in Toronto, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes for $2 in Mexico.  Who knows?

I’m admittedly not a big tequila drinker.  Tequila conjures up memories of the Spew Crew back in college when tequila poppers and puking twice in a night was the norm.

I won’t be popping this tequila.  This stuff is really really good.  From what I gather, “reposado” is akin to a VSOP.  This one’s called 1800.  Never heard of it before, but its 100% de agave and sipping it neat reveals character and complexity (this is not the shit you lick-shot-sucked back in college).  This is my third time imbibing this spirit and it’s enough to get me perusing the tequila aisle at the LCBO next time I’m there.  Who knows…maybe even spring for a bottle of Don Julio Añejo?

The Listen: 

I drop the needle and the record makes barely a peep as Miles leads the band into an up-tempo jazzy beat called Will You Still Be Mine?  Although not outlined anywhere on the release, it’s no surprise that the recording is in mono.  All the instruments shine through clearly and after a few minutes Miles takes a break for Red Garland’s first solo.  It’s an objectively quick one before Miles takes back the lead and finishes off the song.  It’s hard not to be impressed with how great it sounds.  Although the record is about 30 years old, we’re talking about a recording that happened about 60 years ago!

Between the songs its whisper quiet…CD quiet.  I See Your Face Before Me opens with a subdued pace, all thick, smokey and shit.  Mile’s horn sounds like it may have one of those mufflers on it…another piano solo backed by the rhythm section keeps the mood going.  The bass has a great depth of sound, with each note nourishing my speakers with sustain.  Great pressing!  The last song on the A side is another bop beat called I Didn’t.  It plays along with a bit too much urgency for my tastes; not a bad tune but not a great one neither.  The horn and bass still sound great though…and another piano solo…will Oscar or Philly Joe ever get a chance to shine?  That said, it is my favorite of Red’s 3 solos so far…this song is starting to grow on me.

Drum solo!  Well, not really…just some interplay between Miles and Philly Joe.  That was cool and I wish it lasted longer.  The song and side ends and not a click tick or pop to be heard!

I make a mess of cuing the tone arm for the second side and it harmlessly rolls off the record.  Let me try that again.  Second time’s a charm but it doesn’t take long for the first sign of surface noise to be heard.  A very light tic is occurring with each record revolution, localized at the right speaker throughout the whole first song.  A Gal In Calico is a mid-tempo number with Red getting his hands dirty with a fourth solo on four songs.  Although not as complex as the others it has a fun feel to it.  The clicking is still audible as the song fades out, and it’s all but disappeared by the time the second song; A Night In Tunisia starts up.

ANIT opens with a bass solo backed with a marimba or some instrument like that.  This beat’s definitely different.  I like it, it almost has a kitschy 60’s soundtrack vibe to it and it’s actually my favorite Miles trumpeting so far.  By now the record’s completely silent again…looks like it’s just the first track on this side.   That said, a stray pop rings out right before Miles hits a few high notes that segues to another Red solo.  It’s an interesting solo, re-channeling itself making it seem like 2 solos in one.  Philly Joe’s drum work really adds to the ANIT’s cool factor.  The song takes on a North African jazz beat right before the song meanders to a close.  This is the closest we’ve come to a bass solo thus far.

Green Haze is a thick and hazy song.  It’s the first song to open with a piano solo, giving this one a dimension of its own.  By now I’m fully marinated in tequila and truly love the beat.  The song goes thru a slight change in pace and back again…or did I imagine it?  And then there it is!  Oscar’s first solo!  And it’s an awesome one.  It hits all the right notes and I wish it goes on longer.  The solo ends and so does the song shortly after.  My favorite on the LP.

The Postamble:

Although the jazz style played on this record does not hit my jazz sweet spot, there was enough variation to make it a worthwhile listen.  The recording, mastering and pressing are all top notch.  It makes you wonder how it compares to the recent Analogue Productions reissue now that the masters are another 30 years older.  My favorite tunes A Night In Tunisia and Green Haze.  Although Miles Davis and Red Garland were great, I would have liked a few more solos by the rhythm section.

Tonight’s accompaniment was great.  I can definitely see myself branching out to fine tequilas in the future, although with hot summer weather around the corner I should learn how to make a daiquiri.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.