On July 17th, Columbia/Legacy Recordings will released the fourth volume in their ongoing Miles Davis bootleg series, Miles Davis at Newport 1955 – 1975, a collection of tracks from eight live festival performances from around the globe.
The four-disc collection boasts four hours of previously unreleased music, including Davis’ rendition of the jazz standard, “Stella by Starlight.” The track was recorded live at Newport in 1966 and is now available to hear exclusively on Rolling Stone.
The furious, free-bop blitz begins simply and slowly, with Davis and his band — which at the time boasted drummer Tony Williams, pianist Herbie Hancock, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and bassist Ron Carter — delivering “Stella by Starlight” as the sensitive ballad Victor Young wrote it as.
Two minutes in, however, as music historian Ashley Kahn — who penned the new box set’s liner notes — tells Rolling Stone, the band turns the song into “a high-speed chase, discarding any notion of maintaining emotional consistency and reverence, or decorum. The closest they come to returning to the tune’s original sentimental side is Herbie Hancock’s solo, but even then Miles snatches it back to energy-mode, and quickly brings the tune to a close.”
Davis first performed at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, stealing the show with a breakout solo on “Round Midnight” where he placed the bell of his trumpet right up against the microphone. The performance earned him a deal with Columbia Records.
Miles Davis at Newport 1955 – 1975 arrives 60 years after that first appearance and celebrates Davis’ lengthy relationship with the festival and its founder, George Wein, while also tracing his development as a performer and artist. Though much of the collection comprises sets Davis delivered at the festival’s home base in Newport, Rhode Island, it also features Jazz Fest-affiliated performances in New York City, Berlin and Switzerland.