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Miles Davis Quartet paired the music from two small group dates, almost a year apart, the first being his last session before he finally overcame his heroin addiction. Miles recalls that after kicking his habit cold turkey at his father’s home in East St. Louis, “I came back to New York in February 1954 . . . I really felt good for the first time in a long time. My chops were together because I had been playing every night and I had finally kicked heroin. I felt strong, musically and physically. I felt ready for anything.”
The tracks reveal a number of aspects of Miles’ musical growth, such as: “Tune Up” (an exercise in harmonic problem-solving, typical of Miles’ nuts-and-bolts curiosity about the music; this approach and this particular tune would influence John Coltrane); “Blue Haze” (Miles’ enduring passion for mood-setting, down-tempo blues); “Four” (written by Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson though attributed to Miles, a tune that remained in his setlist for years); and a cover of Benny Carter’s “When Lights Are Low,” the structure of which Miles streamlined as he did with other tunes, and then his way of playing the tune became the way everyone did.
Bassist Bill Crow recalls that “Miles was allowing himself creative license to re-interpret standards by simplifying the song’s musical structure. At times, an unfamiliarity with the material was one motivating factor; but more often, he was simply willing to sacrifice form for feeling.”