This is a 2014 Sunburn records release containing the complete Miles Davis Quintet’s May 1966 Portland Oregon performance at the Oriental Theatre.
The two CD set has ten tracks totaling ninety minutes playing time. The band is Mile’s “second great quintet” (sans Ron Carter), Wayne Shorter (sax), Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums) and Richard Davis (bass). The bassist, Richard Davis, replaced Ron Carter for this particular tour. He’s a legendary artist who has lead his own groups and collaborated with countless jazz icons. This is the only known commercial recording of Miles and Richard Davis playing together.
Although the Master Tape source is not identified, it most assuredly was professionally recorded. The sound is consistently very good throughout the entire recording.
1966 was proving a very creative period for Miles. Six months prior to the Oriental Theatre date, his quintet completed a monumental performance at the “Plugged Nickel”. It would be captured on record and evolve into one of the premier live performances of Miles “second great quintet”.
The set list for the Oriental performance includes five tunes previously played at the” Plugged Nickel “, including” The Theme”, ”Agitation”, ”My Funny Valentine”, “All Blues” and ”So What”
Miles, regaining his health, was fully exploring this material using a modal approach. The results are a reconstruction on major elements of the tunes. The instrumentals range from nine to eleven minutes in length, providing the musicians opportunity to stretch and weave seamlessly with the other band members.
It’s refreshing and enlightening to hear Richard Davis place his musical print within each performance. His bass lines are somewhat distinct from Ron Carter’s approach but they prove equally compelling.
The Jimmy Heath composition,” Gingerbread Boy” makes its first recorded appearance on this set. Miles would record in the studio five months later and include it on his next album” Miles Smiles” The eleven minute rendition of “My Funny Valentine” is a masterpiece of live performance. It exceeds, in my opinion, the multiple versions that appear on the 1995 release of the” Live at the Plugged Nickel” box set.
The band also performs a nine minute interpretation of” Who Can I Turn To?”. This is the only known Miles Davis recording of this tune. It’s truly remarkable listening experience.
The final two numbers are” Autumn Leaves’ and’ Stella by Starlight”; these are tunes Miles would continue to play throughout his early and mid career. All this material, old and new is, interpreted with renewed energy and passion by each of the band members.
The extended solos are fresh, remarkable and a joy to hear. Their ability to creatively weave their performance so flawlessly within the band is a testament to their unbridled talent.
A twelve page booklet is included consisting of six pages devoted to the history of the Oriental Theatre and the remaining pages devoted to the history of the Quintet’s performance.
This CD is highly recommended to any serious jazz fan.