I have posted on the advantages and disadvantages of the boxed set. There is really only one drawback, but it's significant. It's just harder to remember what you have and have not listened to recently, and that often means that a lot of the box goes unappreciated for long stretches. But packaged sets are a necessity for even a moderately serious collector like myself.
Milesophiles have a lot to be thankful for on this count. At least three box sets are worth their weight in gold:
1. Miles in Person at the Blackhawk,The first two are treasures both for the volume and the virtue of the contents. The Plugged Nickel recordings cover eight CDs.
2. The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel, and
3. Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall.
To these I would add a couple more:
4. The Legendary Prestige Quintet Recordings
This box contains the famous four recordings: Workin', Cookin', Relaxin', and Steamin'. If you haven't already got these, the box is cost effective. It also has a lot of unreleased odds and ends, including a full disc of unreleased material. Most valuable are a couple of snippet of Steve Allen introducing Miles on the Tonight Show. I love how Allen, who I greatly admire, apologizes for the complexity of the music. "It's not just blowing notes, as my grandmother says."
I recently obtained another box: Miles recordings in 1960 with Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane. Coming a year after Kind of Blue, it's very interesting. Trane is present on six of twenty-three numbers, but there is a brief interview with him. Gotta love that. The rhythm section is Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. I am still workin' my way through it, but I think it's superb. It verifies the masthead to this blog: at the center of it all is Miles Davis.
Here is a sample of a piece where the horns sit out, and you get a good taste for Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb.
That is a haunting interpretation of a haunting melody. Now here's a sample with Miles and Stitt on display. This one makes my toes curl.
Put this one on your Christmas list. Every note is pregnant with Miles' genius, no matter who blows, strums, taps, or beats it out. It is the kind of music that makes you think that God was onto something when he decided to create this world.