Although Miles Davis' 1955-1957 quintet had a relatively short life, it went down in history as one of the finest and most interesting bebop combos of the 1950s.
It was a group in which different musical personalities did more than coexist -- they complimented and inspired each other. The quintet's front line had two unlikely allies in Davis and the distinctive John Coltrane, whose aggressive, passionate tenor saxophone was quite a contrast to Davis' subtle, understated, cool-toned trumpet. Davis, who was Chet Baker's primary influence and defined cool jazz with his seminal Birth of the Cool sessions of 1949-1950, was a very economical player -- he didn't believe in notes for the sake of notes, whereas Coltrane's solos tended to be a lot longer. But as different as Davis' and Coltrane's musical personalities were, Miles Davis Quintet never failed to sound cohesive. Davis formed the famous group in 1955, hiring Coltrane as well as a rock-solid rhythm section that consisted of bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Philly Joe Jones (not to be confused with swing drummer Jo Jones), and the lyrical pianist Red Garland. The group's sessions of 1955-1956 resulted in four albums on Prestige (Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin') and one on Columbia (Round About Midnight). Although the Miles Davis Quintet officially broke up in early 1957, its members were briefly reunited when, in 1958, they formed a sextet with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and recorded Milestones for Columbia. Davis and Coltrane continued to work together in 1959 (when Davis recorded the influential modal classic Kind of Blue), but in 1960, Coltrane formed his own group and left the trumpeter's employ for good. ~ Alex Henderson