Review Summary: Miles' humble beginnings are still pretty important
Miles Davis is the greatest jazz musician of all time.
That's really all you need to know. When it comes to the essence of jazz, the first name brought up by enthusiasts is bound to be his, and for good reason; from about 1956-1979 he had the most prolific and impressive run of albums of any jazz musician to date, and ever since. But this came out in 1954. Miles' chops and songwriting were not fully developed yet. Sure, the elements were obviously there, they just hadn't had the opportunity to bloom yet.
So why review this" Well, it's still a pretty good collection of tunes. Miles' worst (which it's not-his 80s input veers into some pretty questionable territory) is still better than most musicians' worst, so i'll take what I can get. And what is on here, is eight tracks spanning 36 minutes and 33 seconds of classic bebop from the man.
"I'll Remember April" is the longest song on here by a mile, and noticeably drags a bit. Things pickup, though, with "Four" the catchiest tune on here and the obvious standout. Miles' earworm trumpet hook on here is intoxicating; far from his best, but even in this stage his fantastic tone and smooth playing style is apparent, and each note floats on the softest cloud imaginable out of his pipes and into your brain. The next two tracks are good but forgettable by Davis' standards, but things pickup again on the title track, a 6+ minute jam of epic proportions, and the sole song composed by Miles.
Do I really need to finish a track-by-track analysis of this album" No, I don't. It's by the books early Miles, and that's all you need to know. It doesn't reach the highs of his late '50s post-bop or '70s acid jazz output, but it doesn't need to. Maybe the simplicity of this album compared to his later work is why it didn't have a review yet, but it's still a Miles Davis album and it's still very good. If you're looking to skip straight to the quirky masterpieces and the lush instrumentation, skip this album. If you're looking for where Miles got his start and a fantastic blueprint of classic bebop jazz, it's worth a spin. Or four.