The Miles Davis Quintet: Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1967 - The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

Doug Collette By

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The Miles Davis Quintet

Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

Legacy Recordings


With the compact disc in its waning stages of dominance as a medium for music, The Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1967—The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 restates the case for the archiving as a means of historical as well as collecting purposes. The rare sources of these recordings, most from radio and television broadcasts, don't preclude bootlegging, but the collection in a single source speaks with an academic clarity the music deserves.

In the deluxe package (there is also a single disc of highlights available), there are seven complete concerts on CD and DVD by trumpeter Davis' second great quintet, featuring pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams. Recorded on a package tour promoted by George Wein as "The Newport Jazz Festival in Europe," most of this content has been available over the years, but the Denmark show is one significant exception, as are two prominent set features of the Paris show (Shorter's "Footprints" and Davis' "Agitation"). The only existing video record of this group appears on the enclosed DVD, which was previously available only on The Complete Miles Davis Collection released by Legacy in 2009.

The influence of this band remains profound in 2011 because it fundamentally reconfigured a complementary approach to both composing and performing. Though Davis and company were careful to continue performing material that reflected their various antecedents, it was a purposeful action, not just a gesture of respect for the compositions the group chose to retain (though pianist Thelonius Monk's presence on this tour may have had something to do with the presence of "'Round Midnight."

Continuing to include that number and "Green Dolphin Street" alongside Hancock's "Riot," for instance, Davis, Hancock, Carter, Shorter and Williams were supremely careful to illustrate how they reached this point of rarified individual and collective empathy. Transitions from one piece to another occurred imperceptibly in the group's setlists, a logical if somewhat elusive extension of the compositions themselves, while angular melodic references and suggested rhythmic patterns of tunes such as "Masquelero" took the place of the literally stated motifs and predictable structures contained in standards and blues that once populated its repertoire.

Recorded in November of 1967, in the home stretch of its time together—they would begin to separate the following year, in anticipation of Davis' movement to the eclectic and electric approach of In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969)—the musicians in his quintet retained a certain dignity, as signified by the formal attire they adopted for the stage as depicted in the two performances on the DVD, another of the few concessions to convention in their public appearances.

Davis, Hancock, Carter, Shorter Williams remained more than just superficially respectful of such conventions. They realized full-well they were formulating new ones, though their abstract likes were not quite so open-ended as those of saxophonists John Coltrane (who died the year of these recordings) or Archie Shepp who accompanied them at many of these shows.

The quintet drew upon reservoirs of discipline to create the spontaneity of the moments it was together on stage. Little wonder, as depicted in these stark black and white images of the two shows on DVD (complete performances like all in this package) it indulged not a whit in showmanship: any overt theatrics could only serve to distract the band and thus undermine its equilibrium

If Live In Europe 1967 Vol. 1 of this (hopefully) extensive series proves anything, it is that scholarly endeavor can accurately reflect prevailing taste. This lineup wasn't called "the second great quintet' without ample justification, evidence of which appears in this package.

Tracks: CD1: Agitation; Footprints; 'Round Midnight; No Blues; Riot; On Green Dolphin Street; Masqualero; Gingerbread Boy; Theme. CD2: Agitation; Footprints; 'Round Midnight; No Blues; Masqualero; Agitation; Footprints. CD3: 'Round Midnight; No Blues; Masqualero; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Riot; Walkin'; On Green Dolphin Street; The Theme. DVD: Agitation; Footprints; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Gingerbread Boy; The Theme; Agitation; Footprints; 'Round Midnight; Gingerbread Boy; The Theme.

Personnel: Miles Davis: trumpet; Wayne Shorter: saxophone; Herbie Hancock: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Tony Williams: drums.


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