In July 1956, Miles Davis returned to his hometown for a two-night stint at the infamous Peacock Alley in Gaslight Square. Along for the ride, were four more of the greatest jazz musicians ever, especially when taken as a whole. Nearly fifty years later, the gaslights are gone and Saint Louis locals still don't know what hit them.
Peacock Alley 1956 is a CD reissue of the original AM radio broadcast. Never heard of it? That’s due to ambiguous legal concerns. Miles signed exclusive contracts, making widespread marketing of such "bootlegs" impossible. Bottom line: few such treasures exist, here's your chance to own one.
These rough live recordings document Miles' amazing first quintet (Red Garland, John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, and Paul Chambers) on a formative tour. This new band hadn’t even recorded most of these songs yet ("Ah-leu-cha" and "All of You" would soon appear on the breakthrough Round About Midnight). Hear for yourself which elements remained and which were open to interpretation. Miles and his merry men were always on, and they never sounded the same twice.
Though Peacock Alley 1956 could stand a quality re-mastering, it’s nonetheless a must-have for any Miles Davis (or John Coltrane, for that matter) completist.
-David Seymour is a freelance jazz journalist in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA