on 17 October 2011
When this was announced my immediate thought was "They're scraping the barrel". How could there still be anything worth issuing? I was wrong. The comments of the other two reviewers are exactly my view. The music here is marvellous, as good as anything else issued by this group. I think it's vastly better than the Plugged Nickel material, which I've tried hard to enjoy but which, because Miles himself is so lacklustre, I still don't really like. Everyone here is on top form, the reasons for the band's supremacy are clear for everyone to hear. The only oddity is that one of the concerts on the DVD seems to be incomplete. There's a new CD, "Winter in Europe 1967", which consists of the same two concerts as the DVD, but with an additional track, a 9 minute version of "Walkin'". I don't know whether this was omitted from the DVD for technical reasons to do with the film, or whether it's been added to the CD from an entirly different source. It certainly sounds as if the music is all from the same concert. I mention this small detail in case anyone can enlighten me, and also for the benefit of anyone who wants every note of the music - as who wouldn't? I agree that the packaging could have been better; but the price is reasonable - in view of the quality of the music, a bargain. Fast-forward a few years, and see the outrageous sums being asked for this set when it's been deleted. Buy it, now - the more they sell, the more likely it is that we'll get Vol 2 in the not-too-distant future.
on 28 November 2011
The music on the 3 CDs are from radio broadcasts recorded during the 1967 European tour that have been remastered to a pristine sound quality. The band had been playing together for a few years and are relaxed and together. As you would expect the individual performances are of the best quality, and as a unit they are empathising and bouncing musical ideas of the highest standard. This was a high point in the Miles Davis career.
The whole format had changed from the way the previous famous band (with John Coltrane) had worked; that had had a much controlled buttoned-down feel whereas the work with Shorter, Hancock, Carter and Williams was more loose, on-the-move improvisation and somehow much more fun. The different concerts show this at work, the repertoire as previously has set tunes that appear in most of the concerts (Aggression, Footprints, Gingerbread Boy and Theme) but include variants of ballads and old favorites (Round Midnight, I Fall in Love Too Easily, No Blues); it is the way in which these pieces change in the different concerts, the mood of the music, a different pathway from the opening statements; it makes for fascinating listening.
The Plugged Nickel CD set recorded the line-up at the beginning of this line-up period; the Bootleg Series Vol.1 shows the line-up bedded in and working performing wonderfully.
Not only do we get 3 x CDs at a bargain price, but the package includes a DVD of 2 TV broadcasts from the tour (performances not on the CDs) which gives us the opportunity to see the group working. I always find it enlightening to see the actual performance, you see how they move around the stage when not playing, the enjoyment of the other players of a soloist and the way Carter and Williams work off and underpin the front line performances.
This excellent, bargain of a CD/DVD package is well worth investment.
on 28 September 2011
I'll confess at the outset that I would be considered by most people to be something of an obsessive when it comes to the music of Miles Davis. To my knowledge I now own ALL of his huge officially released recorded output. Some albums I own several times over, due to Columbia records habit of releasing, repackaging and re-releasing many of his albums in recent years. For example I owned Bitches Brew on vinyl. I replaced it when the CD version became available, only to replace it again when it was re-released in an expanded and remastered form. This version was in turn rendered redundant when I invested in the 'Complete Bitches Brew' 4 CD metal-spined deluxe boxed set. This however turned out not to be complete when the super deluxe and hugely expensive 3CD, 2 vinyl record and 1 DVD 40th anniversary edition was released.
However I digress. This latest addition to my Miles collection is superb. Like his 'first great quintet' this band comprised 5 tremendously talented individuals. Like the first line up this one was never going to be a Miles Davis backing group. Each of these musicians brought something unique to the group. Comparisons with miles first great quintet are probably futile, they are very different animals. Several of my favourite studio albums (not just by Davis but by anyone) are from this group. Previous to this release the only officially released live material was the eight CD 'Plugged Nickel' boxed set, which has been unavailable for some years, although a double CD best of was released as part of the massive 72 disc 'Complete Columbia' box set a couple of years ago. This set however differs considerably from the 'Plugged Nickel set' which concentrated very much on older material from Miles' back catalogue. Whilst a few older tunes (round midnight, walkin', the theme, no blues, I fall in love too easily and on green dolphin street) do appear on this set, the music on these three well filled discs (all clock in at over an hour each) are culled from albums by this quintet. The music is tremendous, as you would expect from these maestros. Furthermore the sound quality accross all three discs is excellent. None of the music on the three CDs has been previously officially released, although some of it has been around for a while in sub-standard bootleg form. The DVD which was previously released as part of the 'Complete Columbia' set is equally as good, with excellent sound and picture quality. The packaging for this set could have been better, fold out card with plastic CD holders glued on but that would inevitably have forced up the price, on balance I see more value for money in a set like this than than for example the 40th/50th Anniversary editions of Bitches Brew and Kind of Blue retailing at around £80 a pop. All in all a great new addition to Miles' recorded work and a tremendous bargain at around £, even if, like me you already own the DVD.
on 6 November 2011
I have little to add to the eloquent comments of earlier reviewers, but I shared their delight and surprise at the emergence of these wonderful live performances. The group were so familiar with each other by late 1967 that the interplay between them is close and full of risk-taking. The themes are springboards for creative improvising. I don't think I've ever heard Shorter play better than on these recordings, but they all surpass themselves - five virtuosos at their peak. And it is also good to hear the quintet play some of the material they had recorded in the studio, particularly the Shorter tunes. The Plugged Nickel set, great though it is, suffers by comparison from the narrowness of the musical palette with which the band was working. These discs stand comparison with those legendary recordings and may be even better. The best 17 quid you will ever spend.
Having enjoyed Volume 2 of this Bootleg series so much, I very quickly decided Volume 1 would also be a necessity. And so it proves.
Recorded at the end of 1967, a few months after Nefertiti, these concerts would be amongst the last before Miles's locus shifted towards a more fusion-oriented music with the recording of Miles In The Sky. We're therefore witnessing the end of an era.
Where the Volume 2 sets mostly open with Directions, here the opening is always with Agitation, followed by Footprints and, with just one exception out of five, `Round Midnight. This latter is about all the set lists have in common with my Highlights From The Plugged Nickel collection, from 1965, but they have a lot in common with each other. The variety, as usual, comes with the improvisation, which is, let's face it, why we buy so many Miles records with the same titles printed on them.
Predictably enough, none of the music here disappoints, and superlatives soon become repetitive.
The DVD, though not a great motivator to buy for me, is of excellent quality, though in black and white where Volume 2's is in colour.
As with Volume 2, the "Bootleg" label is stretching a point, as the provenance of all recordings is pretty respectable. None of the "bootleggers" here had to smuggle their machines in and out of a concert hall.
On a superficial level, I'm not so mad on the mock recording log format of the cover design, and frankly some of the writing is too small for my poor old eyes unless the light is just so. (I also initially thought, because of the US date formatting, that the recordings were from June and July '67, until I noticed the first set was dated 10/28/67.) It's also irritating that every time the gatefold is opened the booklet falls out because the designer, presumably, forgot or wasn't aware it needed to be accommodated (a problem solved by Volume 2).
But in short, as with Volume 2, this is one you Miles savants will treasure, and as an added bonus it's one I can play when La Rubia, my fusion-phobic significant other, is in the room.
Although I count myself a fairly committed Miles Davis fan I am not sure that I am the sort of completest that must have unofficial recording and studio off-cut that comes down the turnpike. This is purely because such obsessiveness must have diminishing returns and ultimately clouds one’s view of the artist. In the case of this release, ‘Live in Europe 1967’, no excuses need to be made. The sound quality is good as might be expected from a live concert (in other words, very good!) and the playing fresh and inspired. To suggest that this is some sort of scrappy, ‘exploit the fans’ type of release, would be an error. It is a quality product; generously filled and complete with interesting sleevenotes. If this album had been released at the time it would assuredly be seen as a major part of the Davis canon.
The importance of this band for Miles was that they could function as a creative, free-flowing and integrated unit yet still retain a sense of discipline and cohesiveness. They drive each other on (especially Tony Williams) but still have enough respect for each other and the material not to overplay. Favourite moments? The lovely intro by Miles on ‘Green Dolphin Street’ and Tony Williams drum feature on ‘No Blues’ that segues back into the theme without a beat being missed and what about Ron Carter's pumping bass on the same tune?
For lovers of modern jazz, this is hard to beat. Recommended.
I'm a bit late with this review as V2 is about to be released, however I thought that I would say a few words.
Firstly,a note on the quality of these recordings:
CD 1 was recorded on 28.10.67 for Belgian TV & radio
CD 2 was recorded 2.11.67 (tracks 1-6) for Danish radio with the the rest on 6.11.67 at Paris and broadcast live.
CD 3 was recorded at the same Paris festival
DVD was recorded on 7.11,67 for German TV and 31.10.67 for Swedish TV
All the recordings were professional and therefore are far removed from the quality of '67 "real bootlegs" that I have heard. However they are not up to the quality of authentic studio albums.
The band itself is legendary being the second great MD quintet with Shorter on sax, Hancock piano, Carter bass & Williams drums. Here you will hear the band in top gear firing on all cylinders, unlike the overrated The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965, which for some reason has almost reached mythical status among some even though Miles was far from top form, unlike Shorter who sparkled like a diamond on those sets. These European recordings have the band often running one number into the next with just the shortest of musical signals from Miles, which makes the sets exciting and perhaps unpredictable.
The DVD is B&W and whilst it is interesting to see how formal the members of the band still appeared in 1967, I prefer to listen rather than watch, but I expect that is a personal preference.
Some might be surprised at the 4 star rating, and my explanation is that whilst excellent music, the recording is not first class with the bass and drums sometimes buried too deep for my liking but the importance of these recordings, and the value to jazz fans cannot be denied. However, for anyone not very familiar with this combo, I would suggest that Miles Davis Quintet 1965-'68: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings is the essential 5 star must buy!
The packaging of this set is a fold-out digipak with plastic trays for the discs with a loose 28 page booklet, so a pretty decent package at a bargain price.
on 22 May 2012
Having a 3CD box set with three different concerts in Europe from the legendary MDQuintet, it seems like you'll miss something with only a few tracks selected in a single cd. Nevertheless, this "Best Of" Cd is arguable a great selection, considering that the three concerts included in the BoxSet have a very similar tracklisting. So, if you buy this "Best Of" you can have, at a very reasonable price, a great example of how do excellent jazz sounds when four music monsters play behind one of the milestone of 20th century music.
on 7 February 2012
Firstly I must agree with what has been well said said in depth by others. But to add that Miles and his amazing group are on fire here. I was really struck by how good the DVD performances are. Sitting here in 2012 watching these fantatsic performances on DVD is such a thrill. The very informative sleeve notes by Ashley Kahn are very enlightening. And having watched both live shows I was struck by how the music moves forward in such an adventurous improvisational way from gig to gig as when watching the 31st October show in Stockholm to the Karlsruhe show on 7th November. As Khan points out in his notes its amazing how Miles starts another track while the group are still playing the current one. They certainly had to be on their toes and it works effortlessly such is the telepathy between them all.
On the surface to a non Miles fanatic the sets all look too similar with the tracks performed, well thats the beauty of being able to contrast and compare these shows and performances. The tunes vary in length depending on what the soloist decide to do at their given moment. For those people the single highlights dics is good, but for couple of pounds more you get the lot and the DVD too.
Its hard to pick out any member who is better than the other as all of great stature. But I have to say I was mesmerised watching Tony Williams sat behind his tiny kit of 3 drums, 2 cymbals and hi-hat..the sound the guy gets is staggering...and only 21 too. Right from the begining of 'Agitation' he is driving the music forward and Gingerbread man too is a tour de force of percussion brilliance.
It must be said that for the money Amazon are charging, that this is bargain amongst Miles CD sets. A must for all lovers of top quality jazz performances and history. Go get it!
on 13 November 2015
Well this is a treat. If you regard this quintet as the pinnacle of 60's jazz then this is a great bonus. Amazing explorations by all....but especially by Wayne Shorter who has to be one of the most innovative and influential saxophonists. Super recording too.... as one reviewer pointed out better than the Plugged Nickel sessions which up to now was the benchmark live recording of this group. A lot to listen to and even a DVD too. Miles certainly knew that the secret of success was to surround yourself by the best. A question hangs in the air as to whether this group has been bettered during the ensuing 45 years.