Miles Davis ‘Walkin’ (Jazz Wax Records) LP 4/5

During the mid-1950s before signing for Columbia, Miles Davis cut a series of highly acclaimed recordings for Prestige and ‘Walkin’ was one of the earliest of these. The line up oscillates between two formations on either side of the vinyl. For the first Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke make up the sumptuous rhythm section with Lucky Thompson on tenor and J.J. Johnson on trombone. For the second side the rhythm section is repeated, but the seldom heard alto saxophonist Dave Schalk replaces the two other reedmen. The album became famous for the extended version of the title track which would go on to be a Davis staple tune well into the 1960s and for a nice rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Blues’ n’ boogie’. Equally of interest is Miles’ own composition ‘Solar’ which was an indication of the compositional genius that was to follow. While not quite on a par with ‘Cookin’ and ‘Relaxin’’ when Miles had truly found a solid rhythm section to play repeatedly with in live and recorded settings, ‘Walkin’ is nonetheless an album of consistently high standard and one on which Davis’ distinctive trumpet sound was well on the way to being formed. Original sleeve notes from renowned critic Ira Gitler place the album and artists featured therein in their rightful historical context.

Tim Stenhouse