Seven Steps to Heaven

Seven Steps to Heaven

Seven Steps to Heaven captures the moment when Davis’ post-Kind of Blue lineups solidified into the great Second Quintet (pre-Wayne Shorter). In that sense, it’s comparable to Filles de Kilimanjaro, which signaled the transition from the Second Quintet to the Electric Miles period five years later. On Seven Steps, there are two different lineups, sharing bassist Ron Carter and tenor saxophonist George Coleman in common. Pianist Victor Feldman and drummer Frank Butler are on hand for the standards “Basin Street Blues,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” and “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home,” which are among the finest ballad performances in all of jazz history. Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams replace Feldman and Butler on the faster-paced modern tunes, even if Feldman is the composer of two of them: “Joshua” and the title track. It’s uncanny how Miles can stand astride multiple eras, nodding to W.C. Handy (and implicitly Louis Armstrong) on “Basin Street Blues” and pointing to new improvisational horizons on Tony Crombie & Bennie Green’s “So Near, So Far.”

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