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4.0 out of 5 stars
Miles of aisles:The stage was his till the end, 16 Aug 2002
Miles Davis' final chapter wasn't regarded as a particularly fertile period.The sustained and restless metamorphosis characterising much of his career, had given way to a lightweight, background music career wind down.Occasional glimpses of inspiration such as Tutu, were surrounded by dull funk-lite fusion performed in zero atmosphere.
However, this set highlights Miles's greatest achievement during the 1980's,his live work.
Not only does Miles thrive, but life is breathed into material that the studio had suffocated.The muscular sounding bands are allowed to stretch and explore.The shackles of click-track technology and a disciplined five minutes per track approach are removed.The music finally achieves the funkiness intended for the original studio records.
Not everything is good.The stretching out concept occasionally results in boredom.The eighties 'state of the art' synth sounds are as dated as the Blackpool Wurlitzer,there are times you could swear your listening to the Ricky Lake theme,and there is 'Human Nature' and 'Time after time'.
However these are minor quibbles in the vast,eighteen hour expanse of this set.
Miles playing is generally excellent.A strong tone is displayed throughout at a time of frequent personal illness and the phrasing is breathtaking at times .The performances of his much criticized bands however are the real revelation.Scorned for their lack of heavyweight talent,here they prove the critics to be blinkered snobbish sheep.There may be no Coltrane or Williams among the ranks,equally there were slouches either.Miles, regardless of age and questionable motivation retained his gift for listening.
Through these young musicians he was able to channel the individuals abilities into an impressive cohesive unit.Individual
displays of brilliance were secondary to their ability to intergrate themselves into the overall dynamic.From here Miles was then able direct operations,turning the heat up or down,setting players free or silencing them with a gesture.
Concentrating the players in the musical moment.This was his gift to his young musicians and the audiences benefited from their on stage education.And yet, there are still outstanding performances here.Daryl Jones aggressively thumbed Bass,Rickey Wellmans super tight precision drumming and Kenny Garretts high flying Sax for example.Miles may have stopped evolving at this point but he ensured the evolution of his students.
The bonus CD features a concert recorded in Nice two months before his death.Here a stripped down band play a brilliant dynamically funky set with awesome economy and assurance.Under the watchful eyes of the man who commanded the stage until the end.
Serious Miles fans take a gamble, re-mortgage and purchase