The Complete Miles Davis At Montreux 1973-1991 Box set, Live
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
For over two decades, the Montreux Jazz Festival was the world stage from which Miles Davis reigned and dazzled. Starting with his first appearances with the post-Bitches Brew band in 1973 and running until July 1990, Miles Davis forged a connection and identity with Montreux that stands apart from his history with other venues. Presented in lavish packaging, this sumptuous box set, illustrated with rare photos and paintings by Miles, with in-depth sleeve notes, includes 19-CDs of live performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival as well as a bonus CD of a live performance in Nice from 1991. Recorded between 1973 and 1990, and featuring singularly talented musicians such as John Scofield, Bob Berg, Kenny Garrett and Robben Ford, these brilliant selections, most of which never available before, are a must for any Miles Davis fan.
Despite its inclusive title and physical girth, the 20-CD Complete Miles Davis At Montreux couldn't be called stylistically comprehensive. This may be all of Miles Davis at the Montreux Jazz Festival but after his appearances in 1973, he didn't visit the festival again until 1984, then appearing almost every year until 1990 with music which held a steady stylistic course. This is mostly electric fusion, with little of Miles the bebopper. The only exception is disc 19, which captures the 1990 concerts in which, near the end of his life, Miles broke his rule about never looking back and revisited the late 1950s Gil Evans repertoire of Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and Sketches Of Spain.
In the main this set surveys Miles 1980s style in exhaustive detail and crucially, being live, gives far more room to improvisation, the real point of Davis's music and bands, than his 1980s studio dates did. The 1973 concerts do the same thing, though in a different way, reflecting the far more experimental mood of the times. Then, he seemed to be looking for an accommodation between funk and free jazz. Despite the instrumental shortcomings of some of the players, there's a constant searching, in these long, agitated jams, for new ways to shape the groove, the guitarists often grabbing tangential rhythmic figures from the air in hope of turning the groove around. Sometimes it works, but more often the music renews the search which seems its reason for being.
The 1980s bands, with their greater compositional focus and all-round superior musicianship are sometimes thought to be relatively bland, but by surrounding himself with some of the hippest young musicians of the time--notably Marcus Miller, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Bob Berg, Kenny Garrett and Adam Holzman--Davis led bands which became again (like his 1969-70 groups) the focal point for a new sound in jazz fusion. Those who found too little of their favourite soloists on such studio albums as You're Under Arrest and Tutu will be pleased to hear the same tunes opened up and recast as extended improvisational vehicles. The tunes are already familiar, after all; it's the discovery of unheard solos which is the prime attraction of epic collections such as this.
Like the collection, the packaging is on a grand scale. The 20 discs (including a bonus disc from Nice in 1991, just two months before Davis's death) come in easily accessed sleeves within a hinged, glossy black box and are accompanied by a comprehensive, yet clearly designed, booklet with essay and full discography. For those who never got enough of his concerts in the 1980s, this is one to covet. --Mark Gilbert
Top Customer Reviews
However, this set highlights Miles's greatest achievement during the 1980's,his live work.
Not only does Miles thrive, but life is breathed into material that the studio had suffocated.The muscular sounding bands are allowed to stretch and explore.The shackles of click-track technology and a disciplined five minutes per track approach are removed.The music finally achieves the funkiness intended for the original studio records.
Not everything is good.The stretching out concept occasionally results in boredom.The eighties 'state of the art' synth sounds are as dated as the Blackpool Wurlitzer,there are times you could swear your listening to the Ricky Lake theme,and there is 'Human Nature' and 'Time after time'.
However these are minor quibbles in the vast,eighteen hour expanse of this set.
Miles playing is generally excellent.A strong tone is displayed throughout at a time of frequent personal illness and the phrasing is breathtaking at times .The performances of his much criticized bands however are the real revelation.Scorned for their lack of heavyweight talent,here they prove the critics to be blinkered snobbish sheep.There may be no Coltrane or Williams among the ranks,equally there were slouches either.Miles, regardless of age and questionable motivation retained his gift for listening.
Through these young musicians he was able to channel the individuals abilities into an impressive cohesive unit.Read more ›
A word about the packaging - seriously poor, as the cardboard folders holding 10 CDs each come apart very easily. Considering the price (I think the original retail value justified a mention in the Guiness Book of Records for most expensive album) I think we deserve better.
In summary, well worth having. Traditional fans will hate it, which is understandable as I agree it's never up there with Kind of Blue or In a Silent Way, but it's a phase of Miles that was right for the times. Name another mid-80s jazz album better than You're Under Arrest, OK maybe Blue Matter by Sco. Don't get me started - when is Sco going to stop producing rubbish, bring back Dennis Chambers and get the '88 Loud Jazz line-up back together?
I found the music very variable and there's quite a bit I won't be listening to again. It seems very hit-or-miss whether these bands really hit a groove on any particular number, although sometimes they succeed with considerable aplomb. But there's little of the sense of artistic development across the period these recordings cover, unlike Miles' work of the 50s through to the mid-60s.
Given that I'm of the view that it was the point at which he took to wearing oversized shades that his work lost focus, it is probably no surprise that it is the revisiting of Miles' work with Gil Evans that is the real highlight for me.
I have reservations about the recording quality, 'unmixed' the booklet boasts; well, maybe a bit of mixing would have added a sense of atmosphere to the consistent clarity of the instruments.
This is primarily a set for completists and a wildly overpriced one at that. For prime live Miles, far better to get the 'Plugged Nickel' box. Even at the inflated prices copies of that now fetch (when on earth will Sony reissue it?), it represents far better value because of the stunning music it offers.
I've managed to download 9% of it from various friends & online.
I & many many more, I'm sure would buy this !!!!!