*Prestige Records signed Miles Davis to a one-year deal in January 1951,, but the trumpeter would continue to record for the label into 1956.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 1955, Davis performed a celebrated set at the Newport Jazz Festival and was offered a contract by Columbia Records if he could form a regular band. Davis put together his first regular quintet with Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone (later replaced by John Coltrane after Rollins left), Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums.
But Davis was still linked contractually to Prestige, who allowed him to record for Columbia on the condition that none of the material would be released until he met his contractual obligations to Prestige. So Davis took the quintet into the studio for three marathon dates over a one-year period and satisfied the terms of the contract. Those three sessions produced enough material to fill 1957’s “Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet,” 1958’s “Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet,” 1959’s “Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet” and 1961’s “Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet.”
Here’s a clip about those sessions, from the documentary, “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” airing Tuesday, February 25th at 9 pm on PBS.