on September 23, 2000
Along with Steamin, Workin, and Cookin, "Relaxin" offers an up close and personal look at Miles' group ca. 1955, in their transition phase between Prestige and Columbia records.
From the opening chimes of "If I were A Bell," Miles dominates the proceedings as only he can- his tone, sense of time, style, and the use of his famous Harmon Mute never better. He was definitely a man on a mission, and his leadership on his trumpet is simply astounding.
The band also cooks on saxophonist Sonny Rollins' staple "Oleo" (as in oleo margarine, for the kids out there..a simple form of clarified margarine), with Chambers' fast walking bass complimenting Philly Joe Jones' incomperable drumming, complete with his famous "Philly Licks" (playing rim shots versus the snare to keep the beat going).
"I Could Write a Book" is highlighted by great interplay between Miles, drummer Jones, and bassist Paul Chambers.
The rest of the lp comprises slower, more laid back numbers, right for, well..relaxin, I suppose.
A wonderful lp of great material, "Relaxin," like the other 3 lps of the series, showcase Miles and the group enjoying themselves greatly. The results show as much.
on December 2, 2004
Relaxin' is one of the four albums released from an especially elongated recording session the Miles Davis Quintet recorded to fulfill out Miles' contract with the Prestige Label. The other albums are Cookin', Steamin' and Workin' and in my opinion, Relaxin' is the best.
Anyone who knows anything about jazz knows what a stellar rhythm section is on this album. Philly Joe Jones, one of the leading drummers of the 50's, Paul Chambers, probably the leading bassist, and Red Garland, who, although not one of my favorite pianists, is good enough that I cannot complain. With these three, almost ANY horn player would sound good. Making it even better, we have two of the best in Miles and 'Trane.
The album is a mix between ballads, light swingers, and up-tempo bebop numbers...a great mix. Miles is on muted trumpet throughout (save for the last track) and his melodic, spacious concept of soloing is finer than almost any album save Kind of Blue (and that's saying a lot,) especially on "If I were a Bell," and "If I could write a book." Coltrane, on the other hand, is still developing...not quite at the top of his "sheets of sound" phase yet. But does that matter? Of course not. His solos are every bit as exciting as Miles, and make an excellent counterweight to the trumpeter's work.
This album really is good because, while not necessarily innovative or "inspired," there are no bad measures. Every minute is just GOOD...these people knew what they were doing, and thus excell at swinging. It's an easy listen, and an extremely pleasant one, because everyone is on the same level, doing exactly what they do best. It's deffinitely one of my favorite Davis albums.
An interesting sidenote is this album contains more studio chatter than almost any other album, and has some rather funny moments, like Miles saying "I'll play it and tell you what it is later," instructing Red how to begin a tune, and 'Trane asking for the beer opener. This is jazz history, folks. Couple that with the fact that this music is sublime, and extremely "relaxin," makes me give this 5 stars and order you to buy it.
on December 29, 2003
If you are a serious aficionado or just want one or two Miles albums to add dimension to your collection this is by far and wide the best choice for your Prestige LP and for the Columbia LP you might choose Kind of Blue or Milestones. In my humble opinion. The door opens wide as this is by far the most accessible Miles album I have heard so far. Warm notes and friendly rhythms similar to Stan Getz's Jazz Samba. Not as in-depth or cavernous as Kind of Blue tending to stay on the terrestrial plane. The members of the Qunitet are some of the most cohesive jazz has ever seen.
The trio of Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Garland along with master of masters John Coletrane make each song flawless yet wholesome and bright. The album starts warm and witty then dabs in the experimental but is all and all one of the most well rounded albums in my 500+ `collection. Many opinion lists will pull you into thinking the Columbia releases are the be all of
Miles but this couldn't be further from the truth. The titles done for Prestige simply can't be
overlooked and Relaxin is proof of that. This is a solid pick and a keeper for a lifetime!
on July 7, 2003
When I start to 'jones' for Miles, and honestly, he is my third favorite trumpet player behind Dizzy and Byrd (in the more modern genre), this is the CD that I always reach for. The entire Workin', Cookin', Steamin', Relaxin' series of the Quintet is 5-star; however, "Relaxin" has some special moments not just in the history of this Quintet but in jazz itself. We get a glimpse of Miles the man, in the studio - telling Rudy Van Gelder at the start of "If I Were A Bell" that he will "play it and tell you what it is later"; stopping Red Garland's single note opening to "You're My Everything" with a jolt, then telling him to play "block chords, man, block chords". Both tunes shine musically, too, as Miles' continuing four-bar turnaround at the conclusion of "If I Were A Bell" is a clinic in subtlety. There are so many Miles Davis recordings you would think it hard to be able to pick one as a favorite. The personnel narrows it some (Garland, Wynton Kelly, or Bill Evans on piano, please) and the tunes help some, but ultimately Trane or Cannonball, Philly Joe or Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers always...it is Miles and his mood that set the standard for excellence. "Relaxin'" is my choice, not just for my favorite Miles LP, but as one of my top jazz recordings of all time.
Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, Red Garland and Paul Chambers formed one of the truely immortal groups in jazz history. This session which was recorded in the famous Rudy Van Gelder studio in 1956 was one in a series of recordings that the quintet made during the summer-fall of 1956. The other recordings that this famous group made was Steamin, Workin and Walkin. What a series they made, and all of the recordings are an absolute must have to the serious Miles Davis/Jazz enthusiast.
Highlights of this wonderful recording are "If I were A Bell", "Oleo", and "It Could Happen To You". But each and every song are a pure delight. Highly, highly recommended.
on March 16, 2002
The Miles Davis Quintet in the 1950s pushed jazz in a new and inventive direction. Young jazz musicians of the 90s and today still view this classic quintet as a major influence and inspiration.
"Relaxin" was recorded in 1956, and though this was created in a studio it was done in one set, much like a nightclub performance. The CD launches with If I Were A Bell, a tune shaped by Red Garland's skillful piano play, and it never lands until after the final track -- Dizzy Gillepsie's Woody N' You.
The pairing of Miles and John Coltrane on tenor sax is just unbeatable, as is all of the quintet's work. Smooth, cool, a spring afternoon -- a breeze sweeping through a window. This is simply put, jazz for a healthy soul.
on April 1, 2008
I love all four of these 1957 Prestige Classics - Workin', Steamin', Cookin' and my personal favorite Relaxin'. On top of being one very talented trumpet player with such a singular, smooth sound, Miles always knew how to pick a great band, the perfect, confluent machine. He had an ear like Sinatra, and like Frank, Miles benefited greatly by having such great groups backing him up. Then again, who wouldn't want to play behind those cats?! These are four of my favorites, a quartet of hall-of-famers anyone would be gaga playing with - Red Garland, John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.
Miles is at his muted best, he is stellar throughout and his performance on "If I Were A Bell" is a work of art. Coltrane, the young, blossoming big gun to-be was a bit more temperate back then, but very clean all the same and I really enjoyed him on this one. Out of the four recordings that came from these sessions, this was his best effort in my opinion. The lyrical Red Garland performs perfectly throughout, as he and Philly Joe play together magnificently. I always thought Philly Joe saved his best for Miles. Those of you who have read some of my past jazz reviews are probably weary by now of all of the accolades I have bestowed upon Paul Chambers. However, no amount of embellishment can do that man justice. He is just that great.
This is one of the gems of jazz music and a definite must-own for anyone who considers themselves a fan of Miles. As he was quoted saying in his autobiography "Miles", `That was some great music we made at both sessions and I'm really proud of it today." You should have been proud Mr. Davis, very proud.
on May 25, 2012
This is a good album to put on the turntable or CD player and just listen. Jazz after 1985 hit some hiccups and the early stuff just blows the later day stuff away. This is not background music it is sit and listen music.
Miles recorded some amazing albums prior to Kind of Blue, and some, such as Miles Ahead and Porgy And Bess are seminal works. However, this album speaks to me like no other.
On the surface, there is nothing groundbreaking about the song selection. There are no Miles Davis or John Coltrane compositions. Ironically, the one composition written by a tenor saxophonist, Oleo, was written by Sonny Rollins. All of the tracks are standards, although the ballads are fertile territory for Miles.
As a drummer I probably should be waxing enthusiastic about Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers, but the member of the rhythm section that most excites me is Red Garland. I love Red's playing.
Why this album speaks to me, though, is the energy between and among the musicians. Everyone seems to be totally in tune with each other and the album comes across as single, live session. It isn't - four of the tracks were recorded five months apart from the remaining two. Perhaps part of the synergy does stem from the fact that there were only two sessions - one in May and one in October.
Each track stands on its own. What is remarkable is how the quintet took six standards and added elements of the sensual, exciting and even familiar comfort to them. It would have been easy for them to have given less of themselves considering the material, but, instead they created a masterpiece.
on May 11, 2000
Lay whatever you have heard before aside. Put aside all your pre-conceived notions about what "great" Miles actually is. Try not to think of any "concept" albums, or story-line albums. This one will speak for itself.
This, by far, is the best, and certainly my favorite, Miles release ever. What an incredibly broad thing to say about such a legend! I know. And before you either wholly dismiss me, or begin cussing me, hear me out.
Out of all the Miles I own, this is the one I reach for time, after time, after time. It is amazing. It is beautiful, from start to finish. This is exactly like "Chet" by Chet Baker. It just doesn't get any better.
You will love this, and if you give it the chance, you will understand what I mean.