Friday, April 5, 2013
Miles Davis - Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 2
In 2011 Sony issued Volume 1 in the Miles Davis bootleg series - three audio CD's and a DVD of his famous quintet with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams in full 1967 force. (Read my droolings over that box here - http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2011/10/miles-davis-live-in-europe-1967-bootleg.html). I had high hopes for Volume 2 but this box totally blew me away. For decades I'd heard of the "lost quintet" that Miles led in 1969 with Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Chick Corea and Jack DeJohnette. I figured that the live show from 1970 at The Fillmore East was all we'd ever get to hear (refresh your memory here - http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2010/06/miles-davis-live-at-fillmore-east-march.html). That show is pretty incredible but features an extra percussionist and a repertoire of Bitches Brew songs that had already been released. But it turns out that 3 shows were recorded and another one filmed from 1969 of just the quintet. Hallelujah!
I have no idea why this music sat in the can for over 40 years. Some of it's been circulating as bootlegs but they've been hard to find and completely out of my price range. Maybe it's for the best that they didn't get released sooner. There's a lot of "good" music out there but nothing that comes close to the extraordinary work of Miles during his peak years.
The first disc comes from the Antibes jazz festival, recorded July 25, 1969. In A Silent Way had been recorded in February '69 and was just about to be released in July. That album was pretty polarizing amongst jazz fans. Even if it had come out a few months earlier, audiences expecting to hear it's calm jams would have been shocked by this live assault. "Directions" has kind of a hard bop theme but is delivered with massive high energy. The first thing that you notice is the unbelievable Jack DeJohnette murdering his drum kit. Taking over the drum throne from Tony Williams would be scary for anyone but Jack lets it rip and lets it known he's a force to be reckoned with. That's really the case with the entire band. No one is "subbing" for anyone or "filling in." Chick Corea is a totally different player from Herbie Hancock and Dave Holland's bass playing is also very different from Ron Carter. The horns of Miles and Wayne Shorter are also a different beast playing with this rhythm section. I don't know how many gigs they played together before this show but they are tight as hell. One song flows into another seamlessly whether it's an unreleased Bitches Brew jam like "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" and a golden oldie like "Milestones."
Disc two is from the next night at another festival. There's only a few songs repeated from the previous night. They break out "Sanctuary" and "Spanish Key" from Bitches Brew, which they won't record in the studio for another month. Aside from the main melodic themes, these are nothing like the ones that ended up on the album. Jeezus, these guys can play fast! Miles throws the crowd a bone with a short version of one of his signature ballads "I Fall In Love Too Easily" before cranking up the energy with "Masqualero," "…Voodoo," and "Nefertiti."
The last audio CD comes from Stockholm, recorded on November 5, 1969. By now Bitches Brew has been recorded but not yet released. Fidelity on this disc isn't as good as the other two but still very listenable. The title track of Bitches Brew opens the show and must have flipped the lids of the Swedes in the crowd. Rarely played tunes like "Paraphernalia" and "This" show that the rhythm section have been listening to a lot of the free jazz of the era. Miles wasn't into guys like Archie Shepp and Eric Dolphy but new that he needed to surround himself with players who were in order to move his music forward. Interestly, Chick Corea plays both electric and acoustic piano on this show. Chick originally did not like the electric but wanted to play with Miles. The version of "Nefertiti" from this show is much more like the recorded version from 1967 than the other versions on this box.
The best part of all is the live DVD from Berlin, filmed on November 7, 1969. Where the hell has this been for over 40 years? Listening to this band is the most important thing but being able to watch them in full flight is incredible. By 1969 Miles had ditched the fancy Italian suits for psychedelic groovy garb. He still looks sharp, even though he's sweating like a pig all over his threads. Jack absolutely murders his small jazz kit but creates such a huge sound. It's in full color with multiple camera angles with some good shots of the squares in the crowd getting blown away by the jams. This is such a great collection. Can't wait to see what they come up with for Volume 3.
Buy from Amazon
Promo video http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/mB66WKVEH8V13/ref=ent_fb_link