Is it worth your while to download yet another Miles Davis album? In the case of Live in 1958-59 the answer is an unqualified yes. Miles was one of jazz's greatest assemblers of talent and each of his bands had its own important history. The late-'50s quintets had as staples John Coltrane on tenor, Cannonball Adderley on alto, and bassist Paul Chambers, a line-up that guarantees you're in All-time Great territory. Red Garland and Bill Evans split the piano chores on this album while the drumming goes to Jimmy Cobb and Philly Joe Jones.
Largely due to Trane (who is already stunningly advanced on these dates) and Cannonball, these were unusually aggressive, rhythmically propulsive groups. Miles, as was his wont when surrounded by challenging sidemen, plays above himself, holding his own in extremely fast company.
All of the tunes are good, but check out the opener, "Walkin'." Coltrane follows Miles with a long and cathartic solo. Then Cannonball comes sliding in, the best natural blues player in the group, and reels off chorus after chorus of pure invention — a technical wonder of execution, infused with real earthiness.
On Live in 1958-59 you can hear jazz history in the process of changing. Coltrane represents the yet unassimilated future, Garland the recent past. Miles Davis serves — as he would countless times throughout his career — as the fulcrum that advances the music to its next evolutionary stage.