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Seven Steps to Heaven

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 21, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

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By early 1963, Miles Davis was still casting for a new band and this recording accurately reflects Miles' search for his "new sound." Seven Steps to Heaven is the product of two separate sessions recorded during this transition. Davis already had bass player Ron Carter on board. After pianist Victor Feldman, who played on half the set, declined the job Davis enlisted the young Herbie Hancock to fill the seat. The even younger Tony Williams, just seventeen, joined on drums for the second round of sessions. Finally, tenor saxophonist George Coleman, though included on this entire recording, would soon be replaced by Wayne Shorter completing one of the most important quintets in jazz history. For a project borne out of transition, this is a very strong album that moves along seamlessly. More than forty years on, the title track remains intoxicatingly fresh. --David Greenberger

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Basin Street Blues
  2. Seven Steps To Heaven
  3. I Fall In Love Too Easily
  4. So Near, So Far
  5. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
  6. Joshua


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 21, 1992)
  • Original Release Date: 1992
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000286C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,501 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sean M. Kelly on September 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Seven Steps To Heaven" is one of those albums that you have to take in stride and listen to track by track and not so much as a cohesive album.
Miles was in a state of flux in 1963. His quintet with Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb had been disbanded, and Miles had been recording with Gil Evans. When the time came for a new lp, Miles was still working on getting a steady group together. So, in fact, this lp is in fact 2 ep's, as 2 different groups play on this lp, each with a very different character from the other.
Group 1- Miles, George Coleman (tenor), Victor Feldman (piano), Ron Carter, (Bass), Frank Butler (dr) (tracks 1,3,5). This group is quite traditional in outlook, and the tracks played show this. Miles' beautifully heartfelt performances are backed perfctly by Feldman's supple and understated piano. This group proved that Miles could pack a wallop on the standards. The tenor of Coleman and Carter's bass compliment Miles and Feldman very well. As a fan of jazz, I very much enjoy what this very short lived quintet did (2 days in April 1963 was the life of this group).
Group 2- Miles, Coleman, Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams. 4/5 of what would be the 2nd great quintet are in action on tracks 2,4,6. The character of the band is immediatly felt on "Seven Steps to Heaven" (group 1 also recorded the song, as well as "So Near So Far"- track 4- and "Summer Nights", which landed on the "Quiet Nights" lp; perhaps at some point both takes of both of these songs will be on a remastered version of this lp to showcase the very different interpretations of the songs by the old and new guard), as Ron Carter's walking bass is pushed by Williams' drumming.
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Format: Audio CD
This album definitely is an overlooked classic. The original versions of "Joshua" and the title track are worth the price of admission; "So Near, So Far" is absolutely beautiful. Add to that a chance to hear the underrated Victor Feldman on the ballad portion of the album (especially "I Fall in Love Too Easily"). But the greatest thing about this recording is the debut of what was the rhythm section to end all rhythm sections: even this early as a unit, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and the late Tony Williams sound awesome.
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Format: Audio CD
In 1963, the Kelly/Chambers/Cobb rhythm section packed up and left, leaving Miles Davis without a band. Despite being at an age when most musicians would rather sit on their laurels and play on some giants of jazz tour, he decided to assemble a new working band. This CD shows that assembly in progress. The three ballads were recorded in LA with George Coleman (tenor sax), Victor Feldman (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Frank Butler (drums). "Basin Street Blues" is very different from Louis Armstrong's version -- Davis's trumpet playing is much sadder, merging abstraction and the blues. But the real treasures in the set are the three tunes recorded one month later with Carter, Coleman, and two younger musicians: pianist Herbie Hancock and drumming prodigy Tony Williams. Williams, only 17 years old here, generates an incredible level of excitement on "Joshua" and the title track. These may be the most exciting up-tempo tracks Davis had recorded since "Two Bass Hit" and "Straight, No Chaser". The quintet with Coleman, Hancock, Carter and Williams would soon evolve into one of the trumpeter's greatest groups, and this is where they got started.
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Format: Audio CD
This album, which was recorded in 1963 by Miles with two separate groups, seems to have a bit of a transitional feel to it. However, don't let that fool you. This is a gem. The Los Angeles studio group is quite excellent, with Victor Feldman on piano (who is absolutely AMAZING on this album), Ron Carter on bass and Frank Butler on drums. The other group is Miles's second great Quintet minus Wayne Shorter with George Coleman on tenor saxophone. I love how there is a contrast throughout this album. Slow tune, faster tune. It's a brilliant pattern. I was extremely surprised by Miles's haunting rendition of "Basin Street Blues", a song Louis Armstrong made famous. However, Miles puts his own spin on it, with his harmon mute and a slow, ballad feel. Victor Feldman plays the most beautiful piano solo here also, just butter. He swings like crazy. The title track is a speedy hard bop classic featuring Miles and Coleman bouncing off of each other's ideas and Herbie Hancock holding everything together brilliantly. The energy here is astounding. Miles is almost struggling to keep up with these young cats, because they're real sparkplugs. "I Fall In Love Too Easily" is another beautiful ballad that became a part of the standard repertoire for Miles. He went on to record this piece several times (see the Fillmore live albums). He plays it with the harmon here and it's wonderful. "So Near, So Far", is a brilliant mid-tempo piece which is perfectly titled. It swings soulfully. Miles really uses some excellent upper register in this solo and gets up there very nicely. Coleman is in his usual form and Herbie sounds cool as ever. "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" is yet another look at the muted ballad style of Miles.Read more ›
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