Sound — 9
It would be easy to claim that Miles Davis' 1961 album Someday My Prince Will Come merely rides the coattails of Davis' previous work, notably Kind of Blue (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960). While it has not proven to be as influential as his previous (and later) work, Someday My Prince Will Come is a curious masterpiece all its own.
The album's title track begins with a vamp, soon punctuated by the theme, Davis' personal reworking of the theme from the Walt Disney animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Solos drift from Davis' characteristic muted Harmon, newcomer Hank Mobley's tenor saxophone, Wynton Kelley's playful piano. John Coltrane, playing as a guest performer, steals the show with a pair of sizzling choruses which display his tremendous technical skill and musical creativity. 10/10
Old Folks maintains the wistfulness of the previous track with an added dose of sentimentality. Davis' solo is marked by a lonely nostalgia. Mobley's contribution is less than stellar; his sax doles out appropriate but halfhearted phrases. 8/10
The third track, Pfrancing, starts out with a few finger snaps before Kelley's introduction of a cool, unexpectedly cheerful theme on the ivories. Davis streaks through a fiery solo not heard previously on the album, and Mobley offers up a respectable swing. 9/10
Davis digs deeper into the introspection of Old Folks with the fourth track, Drad-Dog (a reversed 'Goddard', named after the president of Columbia, Goddard Lieberson). Kelley and Davis weave together a careful tune, with the trumpeter improvising over the pianist's exquisite comping. 9/10
The modal Teo, pleasantly reminiscent of the exotic spirit of Sketches of Spain, brings Coltrane back for an emotionally striking solo followed by a blistering solo of his own before bringing the track to a close with a vamp. 10/10
Mobley's performance on the final track, Jimmy Van Heusen's I Thought About You, is his finest of the album. The saxophonist spins out a lyrical down-tempo bop which stands up and at times surpasses Davis' own muted improvisations. 10/10
Lyrics — 9
Someday My Prince Will Come is entirely instrumental, but the playing evokes a certain carefully crafted lyricism all its own despite absent vocals.. Davis is as introspective and moving as ever, and Coltrane's performance is both stylish and substantive.
Overall Impression — 9
Someday My Prince Will Come holds an interesting place in the evolution of Miles Davis' music, straddling the modal experimentation of Kind of Blue and the acid-drenched fusion of Bitches Brew without difficulty. I would immediately replace this album if it were lost or stolen; it doesn't have the innovation or quality of Davis' more well-known albums, but the strong musicianship makes it both a standout record almost any die-hard fan of jazz would enjoy.