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on 12 January 2014
I thought I'd add this review in just to give a more balanced view of the legendary Plugged Nickel sessions, and help those that don't have it worry a little less about owning this collection.
I also bought this the first day it came out. As a young pro jazz musician I was eager to hear what was inside this long hidden Aladdin's cave of musical jewels. I was a little disappointed to say the least. The music is brimming over with energy and the band is killing, that much is true. However, what a lot of fans seem to blatantly ignore is that one person is ruining the whole thing........Miles!
There are many stories about Miles at this period and especially how the Plugged Nickel session was a kind of 'end of an era' type of thing. Miles hadn't been playing much as was his style at the time, party hard and play jazz later - all this can be read in his various biographies. This shows up on the Plugged Nickel where quite frankly what you hear is a musician whose chops are not 'on form'. His phrases are short, not well developed and his tone thin and hesitant. Just listen to any of the other albums from that period - there are live bootlegs around also - E.S.P, Nefertiti etc. His playing is glorious on those records, beautiful tone, phrasing, lines, rhythm, it's all there. But not on these evenings recorded here!
Of course the others - young cats ready to burn - were happy to play, as young players always are. Wayne Shorter - if I remember correctly - was drunk on one of the evenings, which probably accounts for some great 'wild' playing. Herbie, Ron and Tony played with burning conviction.
So, my opinion is that if you don't own the box set DON'T spend mega-bucks on it. Wait until it comes out as a cheap version, or just borrow it from a friend and enjoy listening to it over a couple of weeks whilst reading the copious liner notes. Then give it back having enjoyed finally hearing this legendary session.
I should maybe add that the box set has some great liner notes, photos, and other interesting stuff.