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Best of Miles Live


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It is a thing among Jazz fans of a certain age to post "name your favorite Miles album" questions on social media. Let's start with the fact that I can't do that, and fail miserably every time. There are hundreds of Miles albums available on Pandora, and over a lifetime, I've listened to most of them repeatedly enough to be familiar. The problem is too many of them are too good in different ways, so which one is my "favorite" depends on my mood on any given day. I can't even get down to a top ten without leaving out something essential.

But in the mix I always think of the live albums Miles recorded between '58 and '65. These are prized by Jazz hipsters and insiders, and don't seem to get as much attention as they deserve from casual fans. During this period, Miles transitioned between his two "great quintets" and tended to play around a dozen standard tunes in different versions as he changed personnel. Gathering up the best of these tracks makes a great playlist. The music is lyrical, sophisticated, daring, intricate, sometimes exciting, always beautiful. It was extremely difficult in several cases to pick the best of two or three versions of the same track when they all are incredible, but pick I did so there are no repeated tracks remaining in this playlist.

If you are a Jazz fan, I'll certainly understand if you have some Miles live favorites of your own that I haven't included here - feel free to make your own version and adjust as you like. If you're new to this music I hope you'll give it a chance. Once you get used to the sound you may start to hear why so many Jazz hipsters think this is some of the best music ever recorded.

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