Miles Davis (tp), Jay Migliori (ts), Al Walcott, Bob Freedman (p), Jimmy Woode (b), Jimmy Zitano (d)
Reference: FSRCD 013
Bar code: 8427328600132
The Hi-Hat ran full force as the main hub for Boston jazz in the early to mid-fifties. It was the earliest club & restaurant to introduce the “new” modern jazz, regularly bringing in well-known musicians and, therefore, big business to the club. The club’s policy was usually to get a name group from New York to headline the show, with the Hi-Hat All Stars (local jazz musicians) playing intermissions. Sometimes, as in this case with Miles Davis, they would hire a single artist who would then play with the All Stars led by Jay Migliori, a young tenor saxophonist from the new generation of modernists that revived Boston’s jazz scene.
Most of the tracks on the set are up-tempo jazz tunes, such as Ray’s Idea, Well You Needn’t, or Miles’ own compositions Dig and Tune Up, delivered with his customary fluency and authoritative conception, in a flexible range of fresh ideas built into well-defined choruses. But he also shows his lyrical prowess in the ballads Darn That Dream and Alone Together. In March 1955 the Boston section of Down Beat magazine highlighted the trumpeter’s stint at the Hi-Hat. Simply put, “Miles, using local men who swing the Hat higher than ever.”
"If your only knowledge of Miles Davis is his plugged in work such as Bitches Brew, or his modal work classic Kind of Blue, you might be surprised to learn that he was at one time a proto-bopper, having learned the ropes with Charlie Parker. He was never as bright and strong as Dizzy, nor as rapid on the chops as Fats, but he knew how to swing, and he does well on this recording from 1955 with Jay Migliori/ts, Al Walcott/p, Jimmy Woode/b and Jimmy Zitano/dr (with Bob Freeman sitting in on piano of a track). Yes, the sound fidelity is lacking a bit, but this was 1955, after all.
As far as Davis’ chops go, just get a load of his trumpet break on the torrid “Night In Tunisia” where he doesn’t drop a stitch. The leader here, actually, was Migliori, and the muscular tenor saxist gets plenty of space on the tricky “Dig” and kinetic “Well You Needn’t”. To put this album in perspective, it is about a year before he formed his first “Classic” team with Coltrane, Jones, Garland and Chambers, but after his seminal 1954 Walkin’ which introduced hard bop to jazz, to which most of the world had not yet caught up.
The team sizzles on “Ray’s Idea” while Miles in a particularly lyrical mood for “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and the darker “Alone Together”. While the recording quality sounds dated, the music itself has aged amazingly well."
George W. Harris (September 28, 2020)
"In the 1950s, the Hi-Hat was one of Boston's top jazz clubs. The place boasted a lot of high-quality local talent, and it had no problem attracting famous visitors like Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, and Miles Davis. This CD, which the Spanish Fresh Sound label put out in 1989, contains a very rare recording of Davis performing at the Hi-Hat in 1955. The trumpeter is teamed up with four Boston-based Hi-Hat regulars who were billed as the Hi-Hat All Stars: tenor saxophonist Jay Migliori, pianist Al Walcott, bassist Jimmy Woode, and drummer Jimmy Zitano. The musicians prove to be highly compatible during an enjoyable, bop-oriented program that ranges from spirited performances of "Tune Up," "Dig," and Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" to a lyrical version of the ballad "Darn That Dream." The sound quality wouldn't impress an audiophile, but it's definitely listenable. Although Hi-Hat All Stars isn't essential and isn't recommended to casual listeners, it's a CD that serious bop collectors will want to hunt for."
Alex Henderson -All Music Guide