An excellent budget compilation of the wonderful Bethlehem Records label - what a roster of artists they had. Very good sound too. The Bethlehem label focused on jazz releases, and this set collects some great examples of jazz–vocally and instrumentally–between the years 1958-62. One look at the artists on this 60 track 2 CD set shows how many fine artists released music on the label. Like other collections from One Day Music, there's no booklet, only a short paragraph about the label and a few of the featured artists. The digitally remastered sound is good overall within the limits of recording styles of the era.
The undeniable strength and conviction present in Miles Davis' performance on Walkin', underscores the urgency and passion with which he would rightfully reclaim his status as a primary architect of bop. Davis is supported by his all-stars, consisting of his primary rhythm unit: Horace Silver (piano), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). The sextet featured on the title track, as well as "Blue 'n' Boogie," adds the talents of J.J. Johnson (trombone) and Lucky Thompson (tenor sax). Davis' quintet includes the primary trio and Dave Schildkraut (alto sax). Perhaps not an instantly recognizable name, Schildkraut nonetheless made some notable contributions to Stan Kenton's Kenton Showcase EPs, concurrent with his work with Miles.
"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang…
The original Chico Hamilton Quintet was one of the last significant West Coast jazz bands of the cool era. Consisting of Buddy Collette on reeds (flute, clarinet, alto, and tenor), guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and the drummer/leader, the most distinctive element in the group's identity was cellist Fred Katz. The band could play quite softly, blending together elements of bop and classical music into their popular sound and occupying their own niche. This six-CD, limited-edition box set from 1997 starts off with a Hamilton drum solo from a 1954 performance with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet; it contains three full albums and many previously unreleased numbers) by the original Chico Hamilton band and also has quite a few titles from the second Hamilton group (which has Paul Horn and John Pisano in the places of Collette and Hall).
Yet Miles's transitional albums are usually more polished, developed, and engaging than a lot of other artists' definitive albums, and such is the case with WALKIN'. Whether on originals ("Solar") or standards ("Love Me or Leave Me"), the sessions boast impeccable playing and superb interplay between the musicians, who number among the best of the era. Pianist Horace Silver, drummer Kenny Clarke, and trombonist J.J. Johnson are among the personnel, and one can hear the beginnings of the synergy Miles was searching for and would find with his quintet (especially in the dynamics between his trumpet and Lucky Thompson's sax, which foreshadows his chemistry with John Coltrane).