Chronicling Miles Davis' 1963-64 Columbia recordings, this seven-CD set traces the hard-won evolution of the trumpeter's second great quintet.

Chronicling Miles Davis' 1963-64 Columbia recordings, this seven-CD set traces the hard-won evolution of the trumpeter's second great quintet. It runs from its first incarnation (including pianist Victor Feldman and drummer Frank Butler on 1963 set "Seven Steps to Heaven") to its final lineup, which included pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and then-17-year-old drummer Tony Williams. But as this set documents, Davis' search for a new tenor saxophonist provides the most fascinating evolutionary course, from the muscular, hard-driving George Coleman to the diamond-sharp Sam Rivers, and finally to the musician who became the last permanent member of the group, Wayne Shorter, whose playing is wonderfully spacious, multifaceted and beautifully colored. But no matter the lineup, these performances provide stunning moments of musicality, from the roaring glory of the live set recorded at Antibes, France, to the crackling, fierce energy of the Hancock/Carter/ Williams rhythm section, punctuated by Davis' soaring horn. Like Columbia's previous Davis boxed sets, "Seven Steps" offers superbly remastered sound, thoughtful annotations and gorgeous packaging.—AT

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