As discussed at length in the liners by Ashley Kahn, the general consensus at the time (and a theory Miles' held strongly too) was that his landmark Quintet Miles Davis
, John Coltrane
, bassist Paul Chambers
, drummer Jimmy Cobb
and flight fingered pianist Wynton Kelly
was on its last leg, and you could cut the personal and creative tension with a dull knife. But Kahn also argues that one can look at conflict of any kind as 1) a PR move to spur ticket sales or 2) a white hot creative spark. I'm betting that, as evidenced by these radio performances from that epic 1960 tour, two shows from Paris's L'Olympia Theater on Monday, March 21; two from Stockholm's Konserthuset the very next night, and one from Copenhagen's Tivolis Koncertsal three days later, most listeners are going with the far more thrilling second option, making Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6
truly a vital link in our ongoing understanding of the Davis/Coltrane equation and the music that erupted from it.
Originally produced by George Wein as part of the Spring 1960 Jazz At The Philharmonic European Tour, the three week run of shows was noteworthy on several fronts, primarily being Miles' first as an internationally accepted jazz voice traveling with his own ensemble, (the same group that recorded, in 1959, on Columbia Records, Kind of Blue
, with Bill Evans
gone, and Wynton Kelly
taking the piano chair in his place. Additionally, this would be Trane's last sideman gig. Those footnotes aside, the roof quickly raises from Paris' stately L'Olympia Theater, if not with the quintet's opening musing "All Of You," but certainly with the charging and recalcitrant swing of "So What." Chambers tears into his intro like he can't wait to get the riff started and let Cobb do his thing, and from there, the band and audience are either white-knuckling it, free-falling, or flying highflying take your pick. The joy of listening to Kelly accentuate his way through Miles' limber solo and Trane coming up on Miles from behind is mind bending.
The intensity never lets up throughout. Whatever mood Coltrane was or wasn't in doesn't hamper his playing or his muscular, clarion tone. He's exploring multiphonics, reflecting, wailing, wanting, diverging, emerging, stating his case and laying the ground for the grandeur soon to come. The same can be said for the others: Cobb is a tireless dynamo of motion and muscle, keeping time as well as bending it to his whim, hell be damned. "Walkin'" is pure Cobb and Coltrane and the audience hails it gladly. Kelly never shies away, stepping forward, laying back. He dodges and dances, finds his niches, and takes his solos to heretofore unheard places, playing off the riff and melody, juggling harmonics. Chambers is all blues and drive. Bowing with abandon, taking his place in the spotlight as assuredly as his cohorts.
And then there's Miles. Loosening the set-lists to allow gale forces to blow through well paced standards"Bye Bye Blackbird," "All Of You," the ever present "On Green Dolphin Street"giving more space and adapting to the changing, and challenging, new ideas and voices he and the band were introducing to the music and their audience night after heated night. Miles brings his growing modal constructions, "So What," "All Blues," to the fore, expanding the structure to test each player's voice and restless imaginations. (To this end, Khan adds in his liners that vibraphonist Buddy Montgomery was invited to join the 1960 tour but turned down the gig down due to his severe fear of flying. Think for a moment where the music would have gone. . . ) Miles Davis & John Coltrane -The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6
is available in a 4CD boxset, as well as various digital and vinyl configurations. The set was produced by the multi-Grammy winning team of producers Steve Berkowitz, Michael Cuscuna and Richard Seidel and mastered by multi-Grammy winning Sony Music engineer Mark Wilder.
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.