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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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OJC REMASTERS 0888072323278



1. Dig
2. It's Only a Paper Moon
3. Denial
4. Bluing
5. Out of the Blue
6. Conception - (bonus track)
7. My Old Flame - (bonus track)

Miles Davis (trumpet); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Jackie McLean (alto saxophone); Walter Bishop (piano); Tommy Potter (bass); Art Blakey (drums).
rec. 1951


Ignore the typo on the back of the jewel box, because as the notes make abundantly clear these 1951 (not 1961) recordings chart the early rise of hard bop via a sextet of its Praetorian guard; Davis, Rollins, McLean, Bishop, Potter and Blakey. If you have the LP on your shelves you should know that this CD has included two other tracks, My Old Flame and Conception - they are on the album Conception [PRLP7013]. And as is par for this series the original liner notes, in this case by Ira Gitler, are retained in a good retro move, but have been augmented with a new note from the same writer all these years on.

The original balance wasn't especially helpful to the rhythm section, tending to focus on the horn front line, even though the original session was mastered by Rudy Van Gelder. It's not a telling loss, but it does tend to unbalance the group's homogeneity. Of the three frontliners it's McLean who has always caught my ear the most. though he's only present on four tracks. Whenever he solos there's a palpable air of excitement and conviction. Davis sounds dour and repetitious - being especially so on It's Only a Paper Moon where Rollins is by far his superior in rhapsodic precision. Bishop is usually confined to an accompanying role, though he has a brief moment at the start of Bluing where Davis bends his notes over Blakey's rock solid rhythm. Davis's Out of the Blue is really a song based on the changes of Get Happy but it's otherwise a nondescript basis for improvisation. The bonus tracks have rather more constricted sound. Rollins plays well, albeit conventionally well, on My Old Flame.

The production and presentation of this re-release are splendid. The music itself though too often fails to grip.

Jonathan Woolf

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