SKF NOTE: Somewhere there’s a Tony Williams quote about Miles Davis‘s Milestones being at the apex of hard bop albums. It is a great album: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Red Garland, and Philly Joe Jones.
The one Milestones cut that is must listening for drummers is Billy Boy. The track is a trio date: Garland, Chambers, Jones. No horns. For as long as I can remember, this version of Billy Boy has been a model for trio drumming, for brush playing, and for creative drum soloing.
And not that Tony Williams’s opinion on what is at the apex of hard bop albums needs my agreement, but Milestones is a killer.
Now, I was reminded by two photos recently posted on The Great Drummer’s Group Facebook page of something that amazed me when I first studied the same photos, years ago, in the Milestones CD booklet.
These photos were taken during the Milestones recording session. They show Philly Joe on a three-piece drumset with just one ride cymbal and a hi-hat. A music stand is positioned where his small tom and crash cymbal would be.
Did Philly Joe really record the apex of hard bop albums with that three-piece drumset and one ride cymbal? I think so. I’ve re-listened to the album and come to that conclusion. Maybe an audio expert can prove otherwise.
But, I think what listeners hear on Milestones is the drumset shown in these photos. Take a listen to Billy Boy and see what I mean.