Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on 14 March 2013
This set of three CDs and one DVD of live performances from 1969 neatly complements Volume 1 of the Bootleg Series with its performances from 1967. The formal clothes of the 1967 quintet have been replaced but, as usual, Miles continues to out-dress the other band members and asserts himself as the leader. There is some overlap with the 1967 repertoire, but from the earlier quintet Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams have gone, and are replaced by Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack De Johnette in the new lineup – only Miles and Wayne Shorter remain of the ‘2nd Classic Quintet’. The instrumentation remains the same. The set offers performances recorded in Europe, similar to the ’67 sessions on Volume 1.
The music is outstanding with all band members on top form. Miles has a full trumpet sound and only rarely uses his mute. Chick Corea plays electric piano mostly, but does play some exceptional acoustic piano solos on the third CD. Although this quintet was short-lived and represented the later stages of Miles performing live in a quintet, all musicians have clearly settled in well and complete a dynamic unit. The playing is quite wild at times, but is not as outlandish as the later Cellar Door sessions.
Sound quality is good in comparison with other live sets, but Dave Holland seems to get a bit lost in the rhythm section mix and can only be heard clearly in his solos, which are strong. Wayne Shorter is often in Coltrane mood and mode, on both tenor and soprano.
Several of the pieces that are new to the repertoire were played on the albums by a larger and more varied group of musicians, so these live versions are markedly different from the studio versions, but are strongly performed regardless. Paraphernalia is very different to the version on the Miles in the Sky album (the unusual guitar work from George Benson on the original could never be repeated and wisely no one tries to cover for it) but is still very enjoyable.
As with Volume 1 several tracks are feature at several venues but, as with the earlier Volume 1 set, no two performances are alike – for example there are three versions each of Sanctuary and Directions. Varying lengths of performances help remove any hint of repetition across the four concerts – for example It’s About That Time comes in at 9 minutes in one version but stretches to 14 minutes in another.
There is less ensemble work in the concert performances than the studio albums, but much of that has to be sacrificed when there is no opportunity for tweaking of the tapes by Miles and Teo Macero in the studio. Bitches Brew and many other tracks could not be played live in the same way as the studio versions, but it is great to hear what the band makes of them. All the performances in the set are much stronger than the Double Image album of a set recorded in Paris, one of the few to document a similar period.
Watching the DVD after listening to the three CDs is very illuminating. The band make an edgy start, similar to that on the first CD, looking as if they have been rushed to start before they were happy with the setting up of instruments and mikes, but then they settle – initially Chick Corea looks as if he does not want to be there at all! The venue is also quite difficult with the musicians exposed on a smallish island stage surrounded by the audience. The frenzied nature of parts of the performances also comes across once the band hits its stride– De Johnette clattering his drums, Holland sawing at his bass and Corea stabbing at his keyboard - and all musicians are clearly playing with both great passion and sensitivity. The CD draws to a close with some superb delicate duo work between Miles and Corea, with both musicians playing intelligently and subtly. This section of the music is quite magnificent and throughout all the concerts Chick Corea has been a revelation, to me at least.
As the music fades and the audience applaud the band thoughts turn to the question of will there be a Volume Three.
Is there anything else to be released? I hope so.