on 11 April 2011
Miles Davis had several 'best' periods, when he was producing the best music of the day, be it the three classic big-band albums with Gil Evans, the sextet that produced Kind of Blue, the classic quintet of the mid-1960s, or, as in this case, jazz-rock.
The three tracks from the Newport Jazz Festival of 1969 are interesting as there is only a quartet, Wayne Shorter couldn't get to the gig, so it's just Davis and a rhythm section. It's not a wonderfully clear recording, not the whole set, and the bass is very low in the mix, but what you get is pretty powerful.
Most people will be familiar with Davis' Isle of Wight Festival gig from 1970. DVDs of good and poor quality are around, but I believe this is the first time it's been on a CD. Here we have a septet; Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett spar with each other on electric keyboards, Jack DeJohnette is in full-scale boot mood on drums -- this is rock drumming as only a jazz drummer could do it -- Dave Holland plays solid electric bass, Airto Moreira rattles, bangs and shakes things, whilst Davis, whose trumpet playing is strong indeed, and Gary Bartz on saxes provide the lead instruments. It's aggressive, violent even, yet with a subtlety that most rock musicians could never manage which makes it all the more sinister. Jazz-rock at its best; over 40 years old but still as fresh as ever -- brilliant.
La Rubia gives me that kind of look, as another live Miles CD hits the doormat. She's right of course. This one bears the names already familiar from a dozen or so other CDs. But there's only the mildest kind of reproach implied in the look, because my significant other knows as well as I that, again, this one really will be different.
I do confess a limit to that statement. The Isle of Wight recording I already have, once on DVD, once tacked on to the end of a 1988 Munich concert, where it sits uncomfortably alongside Miles's later material, inferior in some respects to that of twenty years previously.
But the Newport material is previously unheard. It begins with a funky piece which goes by the name of Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, which apart from the instrumentation is almost all it shares with other Miles tracks by that name. Drifting into Sanctuary, we are on more familiar ground, with the general flow of the tune bearing an unusually close resemblance to its studio namesake. But then, crossing into It's About That Time, it's again just the title and instrumentation that provide most of the link to the studio version, before the familiar segue into The Theme, which closes the set.
The key difference between previously released versions of the IoW set and this one is that someone has bothered to segment it into tracks bearing the names of its supposed constituent pieces, whereas all others follow Miles's injunction to "Call It Anything". It's brilliant, of course, but if you haven't already try to see the DVD.
As ever, La Rubia is right. No two Miles performances of this era were alike, even on adjacent sets, so the only thing that isn't surprising here is that there are plenty of nice musical surprises.
As I've observed on previous occasions, however, Columbia seems awfully light on representative performances from the 73-74 period, so my request is that they dig further in the archives.
on 16 May 2011
Ok, after more than 40 years you would think no more could be said about Bitches Brew, so I'll keep it short. This album is vital - where have the tapes been lurking ? (or did Miles say "no" in his lifetime ?) This "live" material negates all the complaints about tape edits and manipulations on the studio versions. It is a band in full flight using the themes that are so familiar from the original double album. My first experience of Miles was as a schoolboy listening to an extract of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" from a CBS cheap sampler. What a start to a journey that still continues. Listening to these recordings made me dig out the original 4 sides to listen again.
Try not to let your jaw drop ! A bargain well worth the Amazon price
This release contains material from two different performances: the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival gig prior to the release of the BB studio album; and the 1970 Isle of Wight festival in England, previously available only on the DVD ‘Miles Electric – A Different Kind of Blue’ where the band played to an appreciative open-air audience of 600,000 people.
Tracks 1-3 from the Newport Jazz Festival have never before seen an official release and are interesting because Wayne Shorter was unable to join the band onstage due to being stuck in traffic, so the band performed as a foursome: Miles, Chick Corea, Dave Holland (playing double bass throughout, not electric bass) and Jack DeJohnette. The recording is quite clean if not quite the very best quality, the Shorter-light quartet sparkling with a noticeably stripped-down sound different from the larger ensemble featured on the big Isle of Wight stage.
Fans will already know the I-o-W gig from the previously released ‘Different Kind of Blue’ DVD, but it’s great to see a CD release nevertheless. In place of the long untitled performance on the DVD (“Call it anything” said Miles) here six separate track titles are listed as the different underlying themes embodied in the studio release of the music are discernible, though the performance is seamless with no breaks. The band here is a septet: Miles, Gary Bartz on sax as sideman, Chick Corea & Keith Jarrett on keyboards, the rhythm section of Holland and DeJohnette, and Airto Moreira on various percussive bits and pieces adds a special flavour of eccentricity. Only John McLaughlin is absent from the line-up, but the band’s sound is so fulsome and tight that he’s not really missed.
The county capital of the Isle of Wight is also called Newport, near where the 1969 & 1970 festivals were held. The organizers thoughtfully billed ‘The Isle of Wight Festival’ and not ‘The Newport Festival’ else we’d have 2 different ‘Newport Festival’ performances here.
Overall this is an essential CD release of live-on-stage performances from Miles’ most interesting and creative 1969-76 period. In the 21st century the music still sounds contemporary and retains its edge after more than 40 years.
on 14 May 2011
Almost 41 years after I sat in a field at the Isle of Wight, it finally gets a full release! This is a bargain-priced and very good CD of live Miles, at 59min and 46sec not quite the full hour that is claimed. Tsk!
First there are 3 tracks from the Newport 1969 set which is a quartet (no Wayne Shorter) and well worth hearing as they all play a bit more to cover the gap. The titles scarcely matter; Miles 'runs the voodoo down' just enough for the first cut to be called that, but it bears little resemblance to the final studio version, of course. He was playing incredibly well throughout 1969 and 1970 and here is more evidence. Music in and of the moment.
And so to the IOW performance, which has been available in heavily-edited form previously, and was released on DVD a few years back. It's extremely powerful and holds up as well or even better now (no doubt this is due to the very good remastering) than it did at the time, and the presence of Bartz and Jarrett adds a bit of gung-ho to the music; both are on excellent form, while Holland and DeJohnette are cooking on material they by now knew well, and things reach a satisfying peak on a funky, churning 'Spanish Key'. The whole performance sounds much better than the previously released Teo Macero-edited version, and for my money is better than the DVD too. Very good sound indeed.
It was a wonderful if short (compared to some other acts) performance; Davis gave us a mere 35 minute glimpse into his musical world, but it was enough. And here it is, freshly re-minted so to speak, for us to enjoy and examine again and again. At the current low price it is a bargain and well worth it if you don't already own the DVD.
A compilation of two live gigs, the first as a quartet at the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival, the second an important appearance at The Isle of Wight Festival a year later with that same line up of Davis, Holland, Corea and DeJohnette augmented to a septet. Things kick off at Newport with the first known appearance of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" well before it's studio inception, with the rest of a short set including "Sanctuary" and "It's About That Time". (These tracks were unique to this release at time of originally writing this review but now also appear on The Bootleg Series Volume 4).
Whilst worthy, the real point of this CD is the Isle of Wight performance, captured in Crystal clear quality in front of an appreciative rock audience as Miles clearly shows the funk style he was rapidly orientating towards. Previously only available as part of the huge 71 disc set "The Complete Columbia Album Collection" The 35 minute set was originally known as "Call It Anything" after Miles' response to a request for the title of his continuous performance. "Sanctuary" and "It's About That Time" are still in the set list but joined by "Bitches Brew" and "Spanish Key" to give this collection it's title. This performance absolutely rocks. The whole band are working superbly as a unit, with the sound tighter and funkier than a year earlier. It's a marvellous recording and fully justifies the bargain cost of this CD. Essential Miles.
on 7 June 2016
The legendary 1970 Isle Of Wight-Festival- Concert + 3 previously unissued Tracks from the 1969 Newport Jazz-Festival; includes the first profesionally recording of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down"!
A MUST for every Miles-Devotee, and Music Lovers as such!
on 30 August 2011
Finally the Isle of Wight legendary concert in complete form and an unissued appearance at Newport Jazz Festival with a magnificent quartet includig Chick Corea,Dave Holland and Jack DE jOHNETTE.
on 30 October 2013
Bitches Brew is the best album in music history. I bought it for my boyfriend because I knew he loved it and it turned out to be the best present ever. The case was sealed and in perfect conditions
on 28 May 2011
I just love Miles Davis and this CD is no exception. It is clear and a pleasure to listen to. I would recommend it to Davis fans and jazz fans alike.