Miles Ahead

For the 2015 film, see Miles Ahead (film).
Miles Ahead
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released October 21, 1957[1]
Recorded May 6, May 10, May 23, May 27 and August 22, 1957
Studio Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City
Genre Third stream[2]
Length 37:21
Label Columbia (CL 1041)
Producer George Avakian, Cal Lampley
Miles Davis chronology
'Round About Midnight
Miles Ahead
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
Alternate cover
LP cover used for reissues

Miles Ahead is an album by Miles Davis that was released in 1957 by Columbia Records. It was Davis' first collaboration with arranger Gil Evans following the Birth of the Cool sessions. Along with their subsequent collaborations Porgy and Bess (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960), Miles Ahead is one of the most famous recordings of Third Stream, a fusion of jazz, European classical, and world musics.[2] Davis played flugelhorn throughout.


Evans combined the ten pieces that make up the album into a suite, each flowing into the next without interruption; the only exception to this rule was on the title track since it was placed last on side A (this has been corrected on the CD versions). Davis is the only soloist on Miles Ahead, which features a large ensemble consisting of sixteen woodwind and brass players. Art Taylor played drums on the sessions and the then current Miles Davis Quintet member Paul Chambers was the bassist.

A fifth recording date involved Davis alone (re-)recording material to cover or patch mistakes or omissions in his solos using overdubbing. The fact that this album originally was produced in mono makes these inserted overdubbings rather obvious in the new stereo setting.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Down Beat[4]
Entertainment Weekly(A)[5]
The Independent(favorable)[6]
Penguin Guide to Jazz[7]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave Miles Ahead a four-star rating out of a possible four stars, and called the album "a quiet masterpiece... with a guaranteed place in the top flight of Miles albums."[8] Of Davis' flugelhorn, Kevin Whitehead of Cadence wrote that it "seemed to suit [Davis] better than trumpet: more full-bodied, less shrill, it glosses over his technical deficiencies."[9] The Penguin Guide, on the other hand, opined that "the flugelhorn's sound isn't so very different from his trumpet soloing, though palpably softer-edged.... [S]ome of the burnish seems to be lost."[8]

Album cover

Miles reportedly was unhappy about the album's original cover, which featured a photograph of a young white woman and child aboard a sailboat. He made his displeasure known to Columbia executive George Avakian, asking, "Why'd you put that white bitch on there?"[10] Avakian later stated that the question was made in jest. For later releases of the record, however, the original cover-photo has been substituted by a photograph of Miles Davis.

Track listing

  1. "Springsville" (John Carisi) – 3:27
  2. "The Maids of Cadiz" (Léo Delibes) – 3:53
  3. "The Duke" (Dave Brubeck) – 3:35
  4. "My Ship" (Kurt Weill) – 4:28
  5. "Miles Ahead" (Davis, Evans) – 3:29
  6. "Blues for Pablo" (Evans) – 5:18
  7. "New Rhumba" (Ahmad Jamal) – 4:37
  8. Medley Pt. 1: "The Meaning of the Blues" (Bobby Troup, Leah Worth) – 2:48
  9. Medley Pt. 2: "Lament" (J. J. Johnson) – 2:14
  10. "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)" (Jack Elliot/Harold Spina) – 3:05

A current CD reissue contains alternate takes of "Springsville", "Miles Ahead" (incorrectly labeled as being one of "Blues for Pablo"), a complete rehearsal take of "The Meaning of the Blues", and "Lament" (recorded as a continuous track by Avakian as a contingency plan) and "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)".



  1. Miles
  2. 1 2 Kanzler, George. "Miles Revisited: Sketches of Spain (50th Anniversary Edition) & Miles Ahead Live". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. Allmusic review
  4. Down Beat review
  5. Entertainment Weekly review
  6. The Independent review
  7. Penguin Guide to Jazz review
  8. 1 2 Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 321. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
  9. Whitehead, Kevin (1994). Ron Wynn, ed. All Music Guide to Jazz. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. p. 196. ISBN 0-87930-308-5.
  10. Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, 1989, ISBN 0-671-63504-2.
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