Miles Dewey Davis III was born in Alton, Illinois in 1926. Already at the age of 18 he started out in Charlie Parker’s bebop quintet. Since then he led several quartets, quintets, secrets and even a nonet until his untimely death at the age of 65. Miles Davis might truly be considered the best musician jazz has to offer.
In the early Fifties, he was not doing so well though. To finance his heroin addiction he had to exploit some ladies of the night and live the life of a hustler. He was cheating on his girlfriend, even while she was giving birth to his second son. To make things even worse, he was arrested in Los Angeles for possession. His reputation was at stake.
In 1951 his fortune changed: he signed a contract with the Prestige label. Steamin’ is one of a series of four records that was recorded during this time, while Davis was fighting his addiction. Recorded in 1956 (in Rudy van Gelder’s living room at Hackensack), it was published in 1961. That means that it was recorded before, but it came out after his most famous album: Kind of blue.