- Audio CD (4 Feb. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 4
- Format: Box set, CD+DVD, Live
- Label: Columbia / Legacy
- ASIN: B008YCMM2A
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,254 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 Box set, CD+DVD, Live
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This is the second volume of the box set for the Third Great Quintet, aka 'The Lost band' of 1969-70 with Miles davies, Wayne Shorter, Chock Corea, dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette at their peak.
Ot's a deluxe three CD plus DVD box set which presents live recordings from the Antibes Jazz festival, Stockholm, and Berlin.
It follows the critically-acclaimed, award-winning box set of 2011, Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1, starring the ‘second great quintet’ of Miles Davis feat. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.
The first volume of this bootleg series of Miles Davis sessions featured the 1967 quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. And it was, of course, good to have further examples of this band in action.
But that set’s importance pales into insignificance beside volume 2 – a 3-CD (plus DVD) package of the 1969 quintet. Here, the rhythm section has completely changed to include Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.
This line-up is barely represented in Davis’ studio recordings, being heavily augmented for the Bitches Brew sessions and with Airto Moreira added on percussion for the 1970 Fillmore concert.
Later, a DVD of a 1969 Copenhagen concert surfaced on the 40th anniversary Bitches Brew package. But otherwise this is the great, largely undocumented stage in Miles’ development.
So this treasure trove of well-recorded European broadcasts from ORTF and Swedish Radio represents the first official CD set tracking Miles in transition from acoustic quintet to all-out fusion.
There are still sensitive standards, such as a leisurely ‘Round Midnight that explodes into a high-energy workout. Before that, a revisiting of Milestones threatens to unravel but somehow retains the shape of the 1958 original.
There’s an introspective reading of I Fall in Love Too Easily. Then there are explorations of the 1966-67 repertoire, Footprints and Nefertiti, as well as expositions of work-in-progress music from Bitches Brew.
The most startling revelation is Miles himself. He plays with power, range and passion, goading the rhythm section into epic battles. He enjoys savage exchanges with DeJohnette’s drums, underpins harmonic excursions by Corea’s electric piano, and encourages the roaming basslines and free exploration of Holland.
Shorter is full of fiery invention: a searing soprano solo on the second of two versions of Miles Runs the Voodoo Down is one of his finest on record. Corea’s solo that follows lurches off into free jazz territory – random tones, electronic noise, and diverse effects from drums and bass.
The latter passage is an eerie foreshadowing of Corea’s subsequent work in Circle. It’s also a fascinating glimpse of how close Miles strayed into completely free jazz territory before setting his course firmly towards fusion.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
The recordings here once again come from radio/TV broadcasts, but they demonstrate the advance in recording techniques between 67 and 69. On the CDs the quality is near enough perfect, and the picture on the DVD is near pristine with sound to match! (I played mine through a blu-ray so there would have been some up-scaling, but the picture is very, very good).
So why are these recordings so important? The answer lies not in the fact that you have top musicians here (Davis, Shorter, Corea, Holland & DeJohnette), but in the fact that this particular quintet never recorded any studio sessions. Miles himself considered this a marvellous band and regretted that there were no available recordings. There is a quote from him on the enclosed written material which I am unable to reproduce here due to his colourful language! I am sure that he would be delighted that such brilliant recordings have been made available now.
So what of the music - well it is forceful, demanding, imaginative and stimulating in my opinion. Old favourites have new life injected into them (Milestones, Round Midnight) and the new material (Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, Bitches Brew) contain their urgent searching nature, but the versions here probably sound different to those better know ones. Unlike Vol 1, the drums & bass are well recorded here with Shorter playing as if his life depended upon it. In fact, I am almost tempted to say that Shorter is the star here, much as he is on The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965, although the big difference here is that Miles is on top form.
The packaging is similar to Vol 1 being a fold-out digipak, but it has the benefit of a slot to hold the folded poster with the written material on the reverse. A much better solution than the previous volume which simply has the booklet loose inside the digipak.
In summary, this collection of recordings is of historical importance for jazz lovers, and essential for fans of Miles - it is a bargain which should be snapped up at the first opportunity in my view!