Click To Play Seven Steps to Heaven is an album recorded in 1963 by Miles Davis. On the 16th and 17th of April, a quintet comprising Davis, George Coleman, Victor Feldman, Ron Carter and Frank Butler recorded all six tunes plus "Summer Night", for an album to be titled So Near, So Far. A month later, Davis re-recorded three of the tunes (tracks 2, 4 & 6) with a new quintet, replacing Feldman with Herbie Hancock and Butler with Tony Williams. The new rhythm section of Hancock, Carter and Williams would form the nucleus of Davis's working band for the next five years. This is the last of Davis's studio albums which relies substantially on standard tunes - once Wayne Shorter joined the quintet in 1964, tunes on studio recordings were almost always composed by members of the group.
By early 1963, Miles Davis was still casting for a new band and this recording accurately reflects Miles' search for his "new sound." Seven Steps to Heaven is the product of two separate sessions recorded during this transition. Davis already had bass player Ron Carter on board. After pianist Victor Feldman, who played on half the set, declined the job Davis enlisted the young Herbie Hancock to fill the seat. The even younger Tony Williams, just seventeen, joined on drums for the second round of sessions. Finally, tenor saxophonist George Coleman, though included on this entire recording, would eventually be replaced in the quintet by Wayne Shorter (after the arrival and depature of Sam Rivers in 1964), completing one of the most important quintets in jazz history. For a project borne out of transition, this is a very strong album that moves along seamlessly. More than forty years on, the title track remains intoxicatingly fresh. - David Greenberger