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In the final week of 1954, Miles pulled together another top-tier lineup—this time billed as his all stars—to record four lengthy tracks that would yield his final two 10” titles for Prestige: Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 1 and 2. The group lived up to the promise of the title: Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson and the same bass/drums combination of “Walkin’”: Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke.
Each member of the frontline had brought an original plus the ballad “The Man I Love” had been chosen, and yet unexpectedly, things did not go smoothly that Christmas Eve. Apparently Monk was perturbed that Davis had asked him not to play behind his solos (an event Miles devotes generous space to in his autobiography) and an uncomplicated take on the Gershwin standard seemed to be taking longer than it should. The chaotic studio chatter that followed a false start was preserved on the master session tapes; with one stern aside to the engineer Rudy Van Gelder, Miles got the session back on track.
Milt Jackson: (plays introduction)
Monk: When am I supposed to come in?
Various: Ohh . . . No, no . . . Man, the cat’s cutting his thing . . .
Monk: Man, I want to know when to come in. Can I start . . . to it . . .
Davis: Hey Rudy, put this on the record, all of it . . .
A masterful take of the tune immediately followed without a hitch. Miles, unafraid to crack the whip now and then, was more than ready to take over the reins as a bandleader; the only thing he lacked was a band. His next sessions for Prestige would prove that need was well taken care of.