Miles Davis Albums Ranked (rated from worst to best)
Miles Dewey Davis III (born May 26th 1926, died September 28th 1991) was an American trumpeter, composer and bandleader. He is one of the most influential and well known figures in jazz history.
He was born in Alton Illinois and raised in East St. Louis and made his professional debut as a member of Charlie Parker’s bebop quintet. He started with the band in 1944 and stayed with them until 1948 when he recorded the “Birth Of The Cool” sessions for Capitol Records.
He adopted a wide range of musical directions over a 5 decade career which kept him in the lead of current jazz styles.
Table of Contents
Best Miles Davis Albums Of All Time
Miles Davis has recorded 61 albums and as always we will rank the top 20 as we see them from the rest to the best.
20. Filles De Kilimanjaro (1969)
“Filles de Kilimanjaro” which is French for Girls of Kilimanjaro is a studio album by Miles Davis which was recorded between June and September 1968.
This album marks his transition from acoustic to electric recordings.
It was the first Miles Davis album to feature Chick Corea (piano) and Dave Holland (bass) on a couple of tracks.
It also features Herbie Hancock on the electric Rhodes piano, Ron Carter on electric bass guitar, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone and Tony Williams on drums.
19. Live-Evil (1971)
Released on November 17th 1971, “Live-Evil” is an album of both live and studio recorded tracks by Miles Davis.
There are a number of lengthy jam sessions captured on this recording which were performed in the jazz rock style.
There are several famous jazz musicians featured on this album including; Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. John McLaughlin also appears even though he wasn’t a regular member of the Miles Davis band during the time of this recording.
Miles called him to join the band at the last minute for the last 4 sessions.
18. Dark Magus (1977)
Recorded on March 30th 1974 at the Carnegie Hall in New York City, “Dark Magus” is a live double album by Miles Davis.
The album features 4 two-part recordings with titles from the Swahili words for the numbers one to four.
Although it wasn’t rated by many music critics at the time of its release, this album became an inspiration for many experimental funk artists of the 1980s.
17. Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet (1959)
Released in January 1960, this studio album was recorded in 1956.
Davis founded a new quintet in 1955 featuring John Coltrane (saxophone), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass, cello) and Philly Joe Jones (drums).
They released 4 albums to fulfil contractual obligations which were Workin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’, and Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet.
16. Miles Smiles (1967)
Released on February 16th 1967 this album was recorded the year before by Miles and his 2nd quintet.
The band consisted of Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums).
This album shows Miles’ further exploration of modal performance including looser forms, metres and tempos.
It doesn’t fit into the genre of bop or free jazz and as such created a new subgenre of post-bop.
15. Miles Ahead (1957)
“Miles Ahead” which was released on October 21st 1957 marked the first collaboration with arranger Gil Evans.
This album is a famous example of Third Stream, which is a fusion of jazz, World music and European classical music.
Miles plays the flugelhorn on this album.
14. Relaxin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet (1958)
“Relaxin’” was recorded in two sessions during 1956 and released in March 1958.
Those two recording sessions produced 4 albums; Workin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’, and Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet.
These 4 albums are regarded as the best examples of the whole hard bop subgenre of jazz.
13. Get Up With It (1974)
This is a compilation album by Miles Davis of tracks recorded in sessions between 1970 and 1974. It was released on November 22nd 1974 and has been described as Worldbeat fusion.
The side one track “He Loved Him Madly” was recorded by Davis in tribute to the recently deceased Duke Ellington who used to tell his audiences “I Love You Madly”.
12. Cookin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet (1957)
“Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet “ was recorded in Rudy Van Gelder’s Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1956.
It was released in 1957 and as the musicians had to pay for studio time, this recording is almost live.
This was the first of the four albums released under the titles ending “With The Miles Davis Quintet”.
According to Miles this one was called “Cookin’” because;
After all, that’s what we did—came in and cookedMiles Davis
11. Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (1959)
This album was released in May 1959 by Prestige Records with most of the material coming from a session on December 24th 1954.
It featured Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Milt Jackson and had been released previously in the discontinued 10 inch album format.
There were false rumours that Davis and Monk fell out while recording this album which Davis strongly contested saying;
When I heard stories later saying that me and him was almost about to fight after I had him lay out while I was playing on “Bags’ Groove”, I was shocked, because Monk and I were, first, very close, and second, he was too big and strong for me to even be thinking about fighting All I did was tell him to lay out when I was playing. My asking him to lay out had something to do with music, not friendship. He used to tell cats to lay out himself.Miles Davis
10. Porgy And Bess (1959)
“Porgy And Bess” is a studio album by Miles Davis of an arrangement of George Gershwin’s opera of the same name.
It was arranged by Davis along with Gil Evans and was recorded in 4 sessions at the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio in New York City in 1958.
Many music critics consider this to be their best collaboration. While others agree that it is of historical importance to jazz music.
9. Milestones (1958)
Recorded and released in 1958, “Milestones” is considered to be an excellent example of 1950s modern jazz.
Miles was at this point experimenting with modes or scale patterns other than major and minor. On this album he plays trumpet as well as piano on the track “Sid’s Ahead”.
The track “Billy Boy” is a solo feature for Red Garland and the rhythm section.
8. Jack Johnson (1971)
“Jack Johnson” is a studio album and soundtrack to Bill Cayton’s documentary on the life of the boxer Jack Johnson. It was released on February 24th 1971 by Columbia Records.
Although it received only moderate praise at the time of its release, the album has since been regarded as one of the best examples of Davis’ jazz-rock albums.
7. On The Corner (1972)
Released on October 11th 1972, “On The Corner” is a jazz fusion album by Miles Davis.
He drew influences from funk musicians Sly Stone and James Brown as well as the experimental music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, and free jazz styles.
The musicians line up for this album included Michael Henderson (bass) John McLaughin (guitar) Herbie Hancock (keyboards) and features Miles Davis playing the electric organ as well as his trumpet.
6. ‘Round About Midnight (1957)
Released on March 4th 1957 this album was Miles Davis’ first for Columbia Records.
He recorded the album during 1955 and 1956 but as he was still under contract to Prestige it couldn’t be released until he was free from his existing contract.
Miles first performed the track “Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955 as part of an all star jam session with the song’s composer Thelonious Monk as well as Connie Kay, Percy Heath, Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan.
His solo received such a positive reception that George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience and signed him there and then.
5. Sketches Of Spain (1960)
This album which was released on July 18th 1960 is regarded as a great example of “Third Stream” which is a fusion of jazz, European classical and world music styles.
Miles’ wife Frances Davis insisted that he went with her to see a performance by flamenco dancer Roberto Iglesias. He was so inspired by the performance that he bought every flamenco album he could.
The result was “Sketches Of Spain” which was arranged and composed by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. Gil said;
We hadn’t intended to make a Spanish album. We were just going to do the Concierto de Aranjuez. A friend of Miles gave him the only album in existence with that piece. He brought it back to New York and I copied the music off the record because there was no score. By the time we did that, we began to listen to other folk music, music played in clubs in Spain… So we learned a lot from that and it ended up being a Spanish album. The Rodrigo, the melody is so beautiful. It’s such a strong song. I was so thrilled with that.Gil Evans
The opening track is an arrangement by Davis and Evans of the adagio movement of “Concierto de Aranjuez” a guitar concerto by Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo.
4. Birth Of The Cool (1957)
This is a compilation album by Miles Davis released on Capitol Records in February 1957. It has 11 tracks recorded by Davis during 3 sessions during 1949 and 1950.
This album marks a major development in post-bebop jazz. All of the tracks on this album were originally released as 10 inch, 78 rpm records and as such are all around 3 minutes in length.
3. Bitches Brew (1970)
Recorded between August 19th to the 21st 1969 at Columbia Studio B in New York City and released on March 30th 1970, “Bitches Brew” is a studio album by Miles Davis.
He continued to experiment with looser rock influenced arrangements based on improvisation on this album.
Although met with initial criticism, this album went on to become his highest charting album. Peaking at number 35 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
2. In A Silent Way (1969)
Released on July 30th 1969 “In A Silent Way” was recorded in one session at CBS 30th St. Studio in New York City.
This album marks the beginning of his electric period and is considered by many to be Miles’ first fusion recording.
When it was released, this album caused quite a stir among the critics due to its experimental musical structure. It has since been acclaimed as one of his greatest and most influential works.
1. Kind Of Blue (1959)
Recorded on March 2nd and April 22nd 1959 at the Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City, “Kind Of Blue” is a modal based album.
Miles gave each performer a set of scales that dictated their style and improvisation. This gave them far more freedom when it came to creating melodies.
This album is considered to be Miles Davis’ “masterpiece”, some even say it is the greatest jazz record ever produced. Due to the impact it had on many other genres of music, “Kind Of Blue” has been named as one of the most influential albums ever made.
All Miles Davis Albums In Chronological Order
|The New Sounds||1951|
|Young Man with a Horn||1952|
|The Compositions of Al Cohn||1953|
|Miles Davis Volume 2||1954|
|Miles Davis Volume 3||1954|
|Miles Davis Quintet||1954|
|With Sonny Rollins||1954|
|Miles Davis Quartet||1954|
|All-Stars, Volume 1||1955|
|All-Stars, Volume 2||1955|
|All Star Sextet||1955|
|The Musings of Miles||1955|
|Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet||1956|
|Birth of the Cool||1957|
|‘Round About Midnight||1957|
|Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants||1959|
|Porgy and Bess||1959|
|Kind of Blue||1959|
|Sketches of Spain||1960|
|Someday My Prince Will Come||1961|
|Seven Steps to Heaven||1963|
|Miles in the Sky||1968|
|Filles de Kilimanjaro||1968|
|In a Silent Way||1969|
|On the Corner||1972|
|Get Up with It||1974|
|The Man with the Horn||1981|
|We Want Miles||1982|
|You’re Under Arrest||1985|
Frequently Asked Questions
The best selling Miles Davis album is “Kind Of Blue” which has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide.
The newest Miles Davis album is “Rubberband” which was recorded in 1985 but not released until September 6th 2019.
The first Miles Davis album is “The New Sounds” which was released in late 1951.
Miles Davis’ most famous song is “So What” which was taken from the album “Kind Of Blue”.
Miles Davis began his musical career as trumpet player in Charlie Parker’s bebop quintet in 1944. He became a solo artist when he left Parker’s quintet in 1948.
The genres ascribed to Miles Davis are; jazz, fusion and bebop.