20. Miles Davis / The New Miles Davis Quintet (1956)
The maiden voyage on wax by the famous first quintet is short, sweet, and relaxed. It's still a young group as far as studio work was concerned so the set is fairly vanilla but hides a few gems, like Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and "The Theme," which is probably the hottest take on the disc. The performances hardly hint at what the band was capable of in a live setting, but Miles solos frequently and I really enjoy his thoughtful way with phrasing the ballads. Coltrane was still fishing for his voice and sounds a mite green compared to a few years later, but you can hear the pieces he's setting up. Another highlight is the opener, Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me." It has Chambers walking some coy figures on the bass while Philly Joe is keen to join the fun with the kick and snare, also playing some cool syncopated figures on the hi-hat. Overall, it's a smooth but enjoyable cruise and is sometimes so restrained that the rhythm section stands out more than the front line.