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on 27 January 2004
They lined up trumpeter Wallace Roney, in case Miles wasn’t well enough or chops-wise fit enough to see this gig through. This was both a statement of Miles’s slightly fragile health and Roney’s rising star status. They needn’t have bothered. Miles played almost the whole technically demanding show and played it superbly as this CD testifies.
Miles Davis was an artist who never looked back and whose continual musical questing changed the conception of jazz five times over, if not more. So what persuaded him to play a show that was in effect a greatest hits package from one of his most popular periods – the fertile late 1950s when teamed with the mercurial Gil Evans and produced three classic orchestral albums? For that we have to thank Quincy Jones, a man as hip as Miles and cut from the same mould; a trumpeter with a deep respect for tradition but determined to look ahead.
Jones working with working with effervescent promoter Claude Nobs persuaded Miles to front an enormous jazz orchestra to recreate Gil Evans’ finely wrought charts for Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead which had so delighted so many in the 1950s. Evans, described by Sting as being like one of those mystical elders from Star Wars died in 1988. He always complained that he needed an extra rehearsal before going into the studio to record the orchestral works. The Montreux Concert didn’t stint on time or quality. Supporting Davis were the massed ranks of the Gil Evans Orchestra (led by his son), The George Gruntz Concert Band and additional players to double the woodwind section – forty seven musicians in all. The set featured not just some of the best-loved pieces from the orchestral albums such My Ship, Summertime and Solea. But it started with the Birth of the Cool classic Boplicity written for Miles by Gil Evans and first recorded in 1949 and also John Carisi’s Springsville from that era.
“This stuff’s gonna be expensive”, said Miles to Claude Nobs when they discussed the concept in New York. “Why?” said Nobs, “The cost of the band can’t be that much.”, “It ain’t that, man,” said Miles, “It’s just that this s*** is hard to play.” Hard and poignant. The concert, performed at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in July 1991, was a triumph as this CD only too clearly demonstrates. But less than four months later, after what was probably the first and only time he had publicly looked back on his music, Miles Davis died. It almost seems as if with customary foresight, Miles Davis had planned his own farewell.
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on 9 February 2006
They lined up trumpeter Wallace Roney, in case Miles wasn’t well enough or chops-wise fit enough to see this gig through. This was both a statement of Miles’s slightly fragile health and Roney’s rising star status. They needn’t have bothered. Miles played almost the whole technically demanding show and played it superbly as this CD testifies.
Miles Davis was an artist who never looked back and whose continual musical questing changed the conception of jazz five times over, if not more. So what persuaded him to play a show that was in effect a greatest hits package from one of his most popular periods – the fertile late 1950s when teamed with the mercurial Gil Evans and produced three classic orchestral albums? For that we have to thank Quincy Jones, a man as hip as Miles and cut from the same mould; a trumpeter with a deep respect for tradition but determined to look ahead.
Jones working with working with effervescent promoter Claude Nobs persuaded Miles to front an enormous jazz orchestra to recreate Gil Evans’ finely wrought charts for Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead which had so delighted so many in the 1950s. Evans, described by Sting as being like one of those mystical elders from Star Wars, died in 1988. He always complained that he needed an extra rehearsal before going into the studio to record the orchestral works. The Montreux Concert didn’t stint on time or quality. Supporting Davis were the massed ranks of the Gil Evans Orchestra (led by his son, Miles), The George Gruntz Concert Band and additional players to double the woodwind section – forty seven musicians in all. The set featured not just some of the best-loved pieces from the orchestral albums such My Ship, Summertime and Solea. But it started with the Birth of the Cool classic Boplicity written for Miles by Gil Evans and first recorded in 1949 and also John Carisi’s Springsville from that era.
“This stuff’s gonna be expensive”, said Miles to Claude Nobs when they discussed the concept in New York. “Why?” said Nobs, “The cost of the band can’t be that much.”, “It ain’t that, man,” said Miles, “It’s just that this shit is hard to play.” Hard and poignant. The concert, performed at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in July 1991, was a triumph as this CD only too clearly demonstrates. But less than four months later, after what was probably the first and only time he had publicly looked back on his music, Miles Davis died. It almost seems as if, with customary foresight, Miles Davis had planned his own farewell.
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on 22 November 2000
The Gil Evans and Miles Davis collaboration of the 50's, produced some of the very best of jazz. Gil's orchestral arrangements gave Miles exactly the right sound for his genius improvisation. As it says on the sleeve notes it took Quincy Jones to persuade Miles to revive those sounds at the Montreux jazz festival, with the Gil Evans Orchestra. The result is magical not only because it is a live performance but because it takes us back to the time when these songs were written and were the new sound. I was born in the 50's and I grew up listening to all the jazz greats but rarely has there been such a collaboration as on this album, this is simply great musical history being recreated.
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on 29 November 2012
I have had this album a number of years now and have used it sparingly in order that it may retain some power to affect me in the manner in which it first did. Not being one to sentimentalise or over egg the pudding, it is a confession, then, to cast my opinion on this performance publicly. There is not a wrong step in this recording and it hits sublime early on and effectively stays there. Perhaps it's the belief, in light of subsequent events, that Miles realised this was his swansong or perhaps the spirit within the performance because he did, but, for whatever reason, there is a vitality within the music that grasps you and doesn't let go. I have many albums by Miles Davis but this, like no other, can take a hold of you and change things around for a while. Try it whilst in a vulnerable frame of mind, late, lights dimmed and a whisky bottle to hand to feel truly human for an hour or so.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 September 2013
I approached this album with some trepidation - how wrong I was. Miles was never one to look back but on this, his swansong he finally gave in after some gentle prodding from Quincy Jones. Recorded just two months before his death he must have known his time had come. This is effectively a Greatest Hits set of his ground breaking work with Gil Evans, featuring the classic arrangements from Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess, and Sketches of Spain. It is beautiful, it is poignant, it is a superb summing up of a giant's career. I can't recall any other album affecting me like this, I wept. Truly a classic.
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on 25 August 2012
this is a fantastic collection of pieces from the Miles & Gil Evans repertoire - with the added bonus of Quincy as MD and a great band! it also has Miles, near the end of his life, still playing amazing trumpet - highly recommended!
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on 4 February 2008
I was there and 5 stars are not enough. Stunning finale to a brilliant concert.
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on 30 October 2014
quite enjoyable
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on 20 July 2014
Great live jazz
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on 22 March 2013
Great to hear this concert by such a talented musician, especially as it provides a retrospective of his musical compositions..
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