Miles Davis – Friday and Saturday Nights: In Person At the Blackhawk, San Francisco

Originally recorded at the legendary Blackhawk club in San Francisco on April 21 and 22, 1961, this two-record set captures Miles Davis at an interesting crossroads. Transitioning from the band that produced Sketches of Spain, Davis pairs here with players that would be featured on his following studio album, Someday My Prince Will Come, released in the fall of 1961.

Davis once said he could assemble the ultimate rock n’ roll band, and this effort definitely rocks. The performances are spectacular—and the recording quality equally worthy. The Blackhawk was known for great sound, and the Impex pressing does not disappoint. Via a wide stereo image, Davis’ quintet spreads across the room in lifelike fashion. Kevin Gray takes charge of mastering duties, and if you’ve been subscribing to Music Matters’ jazz series, you know Gray’s track record. LP surfaces are unblemished and perfectly quiet. There’s no hint of groove distortion, even in the loudest passages. The natural timbre may fool you into thinking you are sitting at the Blackhawk, glass of whiskey in hand.

Impex does everything right, from the glossy jacket to the period record label and killer sound. Let’s hope the imprint produces more Columbia titles in this fashion. If you only have the CDs of this masterwork, you owe it to yourself to hear the music as it should be experienced.

Impex Records, 180g 2LP