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.
Amazing what people find lurking in their wardrobes, filing cabinets, garages, whatever. Somewhere in the world I'm still holding out for a trove of Clash live recordings, stashed away in the late seventies by some substance-addled punk. In the meantime, the Miles recordings keep flowing.
As with the arrival of Bitches Brew Live, the last Miles CD to arrive en la casa therealus from Sony, La Rubia, my long-suffering significant other, gives a knowing look. After all, look at the track titles here. Isn't that one on at least half a dozen other CDs? And that one? And so on?
Yep. But you Miles savants know like I do that a title signifies nothing. There's a brief statement of a recognised tune, a flourish on the trumpet, and the band go careering off in a new direction. Ninety per cent of what you hear on CD 1 of this set you won't hear on CD 2, and so on, although the Bitches Brew material is a little closer to the studio versions than it becomes a year later.
And then occasionally they really surprise you and stick with a tune for a few minutes, as with Nefertiti, though played here about a quarter faster than on the eponymous album. But it's a little like suddenly seeing a familiar face in a dream. Something instantly recognisable. But then it's gone again.
Also like in a dream what appears is sometimes a face you never thought you'd see again. So in amongst the new fusion-oriented tunes and electric extemporisation are such gems as Footprints, `Round Midnight, I Fall In Love Too Easily and No Blues. And at the end of CD 1 there is a symbolic fusion of the old closer and the new closer, The Theme and Sanctuary. There is, in short, something for everybody. Except, of course, the purists. But to show how fast things were moving at the time, at the Fillmore dates a few months later, in spring 1970, most of the old tunes had gone.
One of the stand-out features of the set is the rhythm section, and especially Holland and DeJohnette, whose thunderous backing drives proceedings like a cattle prod at times. Corea is excellent: a little less funky, a little more delicate in the main than Keith Jarrett, to be heard a year later at the Isle of Wight festival (the main feature on the Bitches Live set). And Shorter is at his most dynamic, especially on the DVD, where it's possible to actually see him winding himself up like a spring before letting rip (and remarkably, you can hear just the same on Without A Net, recently released by the now octogenarian).
But also audible throughout is the clarity of Miles's playing and musical vision. Here he is on the cusp of a major shift in musical styles, and that knowledge is truly awe-inspiring. Takes your breath away.
The quality of all the recordings is superb (I have to agree with the other reviewer who says "Bootleg" is a very misleading title - there were no substance-addled punks involved in this enterprise), and the DVD especially is worth seeing. The colour and clarity are remarkable given the recording's vintage. It could have been made last week.
Inspired by this, I went ahead and ordered Volume 1 (more knowing looks from La Rubia). But although I've long given up on the appearance of more Clash live recordings, I'm still hopeful that Volume 4 of this series is unheard recordings from 1973-4 (Volume 3 has to be from 1970-2), still sadly underrepresented on my shelves.
on 3 May 2013
Any "new" Miles Davis recordings are welcome, particularly of this famously 'unrecorded' touring band. However, there are superior recordings of this group which are still bootleg limbo, eg two Salle Pleyel concerts, Rome and the Rotterdam concert the BBC broadcast at about 2AM few years ago. We can live in hope.
on 17 June 2013
The internal voice said – no don’t buy it, you’ve got more than enough Miles. But reviews in Jazzwise and the Guardian convinced me otherwise. It is one of Miles’ great bands, playing with ferocious energy – but is it as groundbreaking as the reviewers insist? I just don’t feel it is. Perhaps It’s importance has been dulled by the passage of time, and if heard when it was played, it’s innovation would have been distinct.
This momentous and exciting release comprises 3 CDs and a DVD of 'The Lost Quintet' with Miles Davis(trumpet); Wayne Shorter(tenor sax & soprano sax); Chick Corea(piano & electric piano); Dave Holland(bass) & Jack DeJohnette(drums).
CDs 1 & 2 were recorded at the Antibes Jazz Festival on July 25 & 26, 1969 shortly before the 'Bitches Brew' sessions during August.
CD 3 was recorded in Stockholm on November 5, 1969.
The DVD shows high quality colour footage of the quintet at an electrifying concert in Berlin on November 7, 1969.
'Live in Europe 1969' captures Miles' transitional quintet at a creative peak and this magnificent release will undoubtedly feature highly in jazz album of the year polls for 2013.