It's a measure of Miles Davis' great respect for John Coltrane that the well-established jazz icon would ask the jazz icon in-the-making to do one more tour (of Europe) as the final component of latter's second stint in a quartet led by the man with the horn. The closure had begun with Coltrane's prior resignation, as noted in Ashley Kahn's scrupulously-detailed liner notes, which may account for both the familiarity of the chosen repertoire here as well as the sense of abandon evinced in the playing during the 1960 concerts collected on this four-CD set.
As is true of all Miles' greatest bands, the dynamic range of these performances runs the gamut. The band is irresistibly and unremittingly jaunty throughout the seventeen minutes of "All Of You" in Paris, and it's not just the romantic locale, but every soloist, including the leader and supported by the rhythm section, that evokes the sweetness of emotion with such panache. There's no less a sense of shared delight in playing music together from the same Olympia Theatre stage during the thirteen minutes of "So What."
Such abiding mutual pleasure is not relegated only to the ensemble passages. Nor the does the level of emotion drop off during solos like pianist Wynton Kelly's here, or the insistent take on "Green Dolphin Street" that evolves out of his intro. No individual was more assertive than another in this band, a tribute to Davis' leadership certainly, but also to each man's intuitive balance of humility and confidence, whether in the spotlight as is the great saxophonist so often, or an accompanying role (from which drummer Jimmy Cobb invariably draws attention throughout). Trane is comparably circumspect during the interview concluding this set of recordings, originally broadcast on radio at the time they occurred.
The multiple inclusions of tunes arising from a deliberately limited book for the five concerts may, for some listeners, preclude many repeated listenings to The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6 in its entirety (unless the music lover becomes lost in perusal of the enclosed photo-laden booklet). That said, the repetition is not redundant because of the mercurial nature of these musicians, their imaginations afire from their interactions with each other, not to mention the aforementioned emotional overlay of this tour: just compare the renditions of "Walkin'" from subsequent nights of March 21 and 22, in particular Paul Chambers' bass exposition, then relish the novelty of "Oleo"'s appearance or that of "Fran Dance" during the first Stockholm show.
Live recordings have constituted the bastion of the Miles Davis Bootleg Series of archive releases and Vol. 6 is hardly an exception. In fact, it may stand as the most notable title so far even given the existence of the inaugural set Live in Europe 1967 (Columbia/Legacy, 2011). Producers Steve Berkowitz, Michael Cuscuna and Richard Seidel should be proud of their work on this lavish package, as should engineer Mark Wilder: his mastering of near sixty year-old master tapes brings a realism to the sound that reminds how truly great music is timeless.
Olympia, Paris, France March 21, 1960 - CD 1: First Concert - All Of You: So What: On Green Dolphin Street. Second Concert - 4. Walkin’. CD 2: Paris Second Concert continued - Bye Bye Blackbird; ’Round Midnight; Oleo; The Theme. Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark
March 24, 1960 - Introduction (by Norman Granz; So What; On Green Dolphin Street; All Blues; The Theme (incomplete) Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden. March 22, 1960 - CD 3: First Concert - Introduction by Norman Granz; So What; Fran Dance; Walkin’; The Theme. CD 4: Stockholm Second Concert - So What; On Green Dolphin Street; All Blues; The Theme; Interview - John Coltrane Interview by Carl-Erik Lindgren.
Miles Davis: trumpet; John Coltrane: tenor sax; Wynton Kelly: piano; Paul Chambers: bass;
Jimmy Cobb: drums.
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