All Stars Quintet/Sextet
This is DCC's "24 Karat Gold Compact Disc" reissue of the timeless Prestige LP 7034. The music came a month after the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival appearance that accelerated the trumpeter's career, and four months before he formed the quintet with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones.
Not a landmark Davis recording, it is nonetheless a notably satisfying one. It includes Jackie McLean at a new level of maturity, Milt Jackson and Percy Heath at the time of the Modern Jazz Quartet's ascendancy, the impeccable drumming of Arthur Taylor and the record debut of Ray Bryant. Davis' playing is marked by logic, relaxation and a cheerfulness that may have reflected an inkling that he was coming out of a relatively fallow period.
The post-loop felicities of McLean's "Dr. Jackle" and "Minor March" and Thad Jones' "Bitty Ditty" precede the remarkable "Changes," Bryant's exquisite alteration of blues harmonies. Davis' seven choruses, played into a mute, constitute one of the best recorded solos of his life. In his solo, Bryant's delicacy of touch, harmonic imagination and beauty of line announce the arrival of a major pianist.
The disc nicely reproduces, and wisely does not try to improve, the richness of Rudy Van Gelder's sound. This is a basic repertoire item.