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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 May 2014
When tenor saxophonist George Coleman left trumpeter Miles Davis's Quintet in 1964, Sam Rivers was hired briefly as a replacement on the recommmendation of Miles' drummer Tony Williams.
The quintet with Miles(trumpet); Rivers(tenor sax); Herbie Hancock(piano) Ron Carter(bass) & Tony Williams(drums) made a tour of Japan where the "concerts were a big success" according to Miles in his autobiography.
This was recorded in Tokyo on July 14, 1964 in front of an enthusiastic audience. Davis is in great form on two originals and three standards including an enthralling 12-minute version of 'My Funny Valentine'.
Although Rivers is probably not the ideal saxophonist for Miles it's fascinating to hear his 'outside' playing in the quintet.
'Miles in Tokyo' is the sole recording of this quintet and is an unjustly overlooked album which deserves a place in any serious Miles Davis collection.
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on 16 September 2012
With some fine playing by Miles and his formidable regulars my reservations lie with the contribution made by Rivers - whose inclusion in the band was dictated more by necessity than preference. He's certainly different from his predecessor George Coleman, but the question is: does he gel or does he grate? For me it's more of the latter. His off-tone, at times raucous style may be individual and incisive but it seems at odds with the spirit of the music - detracting from rather than complimenting the overall performance. If as both Miles and Williams say 'he changed the sound of the band' (and let's face it: they should know!) it's not immediately obvious on this recording. As Richard Cook suggests in his highly recommended MD musical biography 'It's about that time': 'the sound of the band was changing anyway'....
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on 21 September 2013
There are so many live Miles albums from the early '60s. The USP of this one is it's the only recording with Sam Rivers playing in a short stint in the quintet. The recording is good quality but on some tracks the bass and piano are more prominent than trumpet and tenor. Performance-wise it's excellent: Rivers fits well on an Funny Valentine and All of You, he's clearly more experimental on the faster numbers but to me is preferable to Shorter on the Berlin set.
This is one for Miles collectors, after you've listened to My Funny Valentine and In Europe and want to hear more of the same but different.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 May 2015
This is a vital curio in the development of Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet, for it is the only decent record of Sam Rivers' tenancy in the band which lasted for the duration of the 1964 Japanese tour. Sure, there's "The Lost Japanese Concerts" too, but that is often held up as the worst recorded CD (with fingers squarely pointed at disc 2) in Mile's extensive Canon. Rivers had joined the band just two weeks prior on the understanding it was a temporary measure following George Colman's departure - and in the process changed the band's sound. This was the first time Miles had performed in Japan, with this very first Japanese concert originally captured for radio seeing first release in Japan only in 1969 and having to wait until 2005 for a worldwide release. The Japanese fans were an unknown quantity and the band were initially nervous, but to their delight found the audience both knowledgeable (thanks to Miles in Europe, released in Japan in 1963) and very appreciative, leading Miles to remain on stage during other's solos rather than walking off in deference.

The band stuck to the standards they favoured at that point, with this set including If I Were A Bell, My Funny Valentine, So What, Walkin', All Of You and traditional closer Go-Go (The Theme). However the audience heard very different renditions to those on Miles In Europe, with River's sometimes unfairly criticised for not fitting in. This is true, Miles and Rivers were chalk and cheese, but the clash brought something new, an important development of the sound that would fully crystallize with Wayne Shorter's arrival. A vital link in the Miles Davis jigsaw, this album stands alone as capturing a unique line up and is worth buying on that basis alone.
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on 7 December 2014
I love the saxophonist he adds a new dimension to So what
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on 16 October 2007
If there's a genre where live albums work best, it's surely gotta be jazz. It's essentially a live form of music anyway, even when aimed to be recorded, but the crowd noises and atmosphere seem to add a whole new dimension to the music, making it much easier to imagine yourself there in the hustle 'n' bustle of the audience. Here we find ourselves in Tokyo in July 1964, and Miles is joined by Sam Rivers, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter ("...is on the bass!") Again, I'll have to admit to my lack of jazz knowledge, but the playing seems very natural; I can't say I understand what people are referring to when they say Rivers is out of place, the group sounds great to me. All the tracks fly by nicely and we even get a reworking of the much-famed 'So What', which swings a hell of a lot more than the original. Ever find yourself wanting to smash through the speaker and watch it as it happened? For me, that's this album all over.
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