Cult Albums: #4 MILES DAVIS – Quiet Nights (1964)

Barring the stage play soundtrack “The Time Of The Barracudas” (available on the CD reissue of this album), Quiet Nights marked the last collaboration between Miles Davis and Gil Evans. It was thoroughly panned on its release, and at less than 25 minutes long, it’s barely an album at all. Its reputation has never really grown, and it’s never mentioned in the same breath as the great collaborations between the two like Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead. Which is a shame, because it’s a sweet, and very listenable, record.

At the time of Quiet Nights‘ conception, bossa nova was very much a new thing. By the time it came out in March 1964, it was mainstream, thanks to acts like Stan Getz and João Gilberto. It probably seemed to contemporary critics like an ill-advised attempt to jump on a bandwagon. The tempos are laid back, and some of the orchestrations seem a bit off-key, but Miles’ playing is relaxed and clear. Five of the tunes are covers – only “Song No.1” and “Song No.2” are Evans / Davis originals, and the latter runs to a decidedly trim 96 seconds.

The tracks were recorded in dribs and drabs between July ’62 and April ’63. The last to be laid down, “Summer Night”, was taped without the orchestration as a quintet, and is a cool, stripped down ballad that has little in common with the other tracks. It’s a lovely tune, but feels like it was tacked on the end to boost the running time. Evans and Davis both considered the album unfinished, but Columbia went ahead and released it anyway. Personally, I’m glad they did. While Quiet Nights is hardly up there with the likes of Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, I think it’s an under-rated record which is probably looked down upon due more to its length than the quality of the music it contains.

A1 Song No. 2 (1:36)
A2 Once Upon A Summertime (3:24)
A3 Aos Pes Da Cruz (4:15)
A4 Song No. 1 (4:33)
B1 Wait Till You See Her (4:03)
B2 Corcovado (2:42)
B3 Summer Night (3:19)

CD Bonus Track
The Time Of The Barracudas (12:45)

Originally released on Columbia in March 1964.


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