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Miles Davis recordings in Los Angeles, 1946 with the Benny Carter orchestra

Let's take a look at some recordings that document Miles' presence in the Benny Carter Orchestra in Los Angeles, in the early 1946.

During that period Miles is playing also at the Finale Club, in Los Angeles, in quintet with Charlie Parker, backed by a local rhytmic session.

This period in California is documented also by a four side recording session for Dial, the new Ross Russell recording label, on March 28, 1946, during which Charlie Parker's septet recorded the following tunes:

- Moose the Mooche

- Yardbird Suite

- Ornithology

- A Night in Tunisia

All those tunes, except for A Night in Tunisia, by Dizzy Gillespie, were composed by Charlie Parker using the harmonic structures of well-known tunes.

Here we'll examine a well-dated session at Streets of Paris, Los Angeles on March 31, 1946.

From this session we have three tunes:

Just You, Just Me

Just You, Just Me is a song composed by Jesse Greer in 1929.

Song structure is A-A-B-A with each section lasting eight bars.

Let's listen to the song's theme as played after a short piano intro (key is Eb major)


And now let's listen to Miles solo, two entire 32 bars choruses, open trumpet. A very interesting solo


We recognize Miles comparing this fragment

with what he plays on Ornithology, take 1
, recorded with Charlie Parker for Dial on March 28, 1946, just three days before the Benny Carter Orchestra date we're discussing here.

Anyway, Miles Davis is explicitely named from the announcer at the end of his solo, and so here everybody agrees.

We already said that harmonic structure is A-A-B-A: often in this kind of structures, playing on bridge reveals important soloists features. Here we can hear, in the first chorus bridge (second half) Miles playing a F7 chord with a descending phrase emphasis on diminished 5th


Not much different from what Charlie Parker would play, on the same F7 chord, here

on Dewey Square, first take, recorded for Dial on October 10, 1947.

We can find this feature in Chasin' The Bird (recorded for Savoy with Charlie Parker on May 8, 1947), where during closing theme re-exposition, Miles improvises on the bridge.

Let's listen to this fragment from take 3

and from take 4
where he plays very similar on G7 with emphasis on dimished 5th.

Don't Blame Me

Don't Blame Me is a Nat King Cole's song.

Song structure is A-A-B-A with each section lasting eight bars.

Let's listen to Miles playing first 16 bars

and the end of his solo (entire bridge is missing)
, open trumpet.

Very interesting: this is first known recording of a ballad played by Miles.

His style is already mature and well-defined: let's listen to the beginning of his solo

and compare it with what Miles will play in 1949 at the International Jazz Festival in Paris on the same ballad, in opening theme chorus
and in last section of closing chorus
; the same way of paraphrasing a melody.

More, compare the way Miles plays the second bar of his solo

with what he plays on the same tune with Charlie Parker on November 4, 1947

It's also interesting to compare how Miles plays the same harmonic fragment on first A (bars 4-6)

and on second A (bars 12-14)

At the end of James Cannady guitar solo we hear again Miles playing on the last A of the song form


Sweet Georgia Brown

Sweet Georgia Brown is a song composed in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard.

Let's listen to the theme, 32 bars, which is largely improvised by Miles, expecially in the second 16 bars half


And now let's listen to Miles long solo (three chorus)


Let's notice Ornithology theme quotation in second chorus, bars 3-4 (here we are on a F7)

; we already said that Ornithology (an original by Parker, based on the harmony of How High The Moon) was recorded on March 28, 1946.

In 'Benny Carter: A Life in American Music' (Berger 2002) the author claims that Miles plays theme and Howard McGhee plays trumpet solo, but this is definitely false, as we can observe by comparing this phrase from Sweet Georgia Brown trumpet solo

with the first phrase of Miles solo on Moose The Mooche (take 2)
, recorded with Charlie Parker on March 28, 1946.

And even this phrase from Sweet Georgia Brown trumpet solo

recalls much a similar phrase of Miles solo on Moose The Mooche (take 3)
, from the same recording session.

It's also interesting to notice how Miles plays similar phrases on the same harmonic fragment, a Bb7 chord; here are some examples:

- impro on theme, bars 21-22

- first chorus, bars 5-6

- first chorus, bars 21-22

- second chorus, bars 5-6

- second chorus, bars 21-22

- third chorus, bars 21-22


There is another thing that is worth noting in Sweet Georgia Brown solo: during it we hear a fragment

that we can find elsewhere.

Miles is familiar with that phrasing since his first recordings with Herbie Fields Band, as we may notice listening to this fragment from Deep Sea Blues, recorded in New York, on April 24, 1945


We will find this phrase many other times : as an example listen to these fragments of his solos on an Earl Coleman song, Don't Explain To Me Baby, recorded on October 18, 1946, take 2

, take 3
and take 4
. Miles plays a similar phrase even on Overtime (long version), on January 3, 1949 with Metronome All-Stars, well recognizeable in bars 5-8 of the chase's second chorus

List of referenced discography:

- Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy & Dial Sessions

- Miles Davis: Boppin The Blues

- Miles Davis: First Miles

- Miles Davis: Young Miles, vol. 2 (Masters Of Jazz MJCD 151)

- Benny Carter Big Band: On The Air (Jazzup 327)

- Benny Carter Big Band: The Radio Years 1939-1946 (Jazz Unlimited 201-2078)

- The Miles Davis/Tadd Dameron Quintet In Paris Festival International De Jazz, May, 1949

Complete transcriptions of referenced Miles Davis solos are available on themusicofmiles

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