Monday, September 19, 2011

Miles Davis In Europe

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Live In Europe 1967 (Columbia/Legacy; 2011)
Herbie Hancock (piano)
Wayne Shorter (sax)
Ron Carter (bass)
Tony Williams (drums)

For many jazz fans we own a gazillion Miles Davis live albums (official and unofficial). But every once in awhile I like to mention a few that are must haves. Live In Europe 1967 is definitely one of them. This is a boxed set of a series of unofficial recordings (aka bootlegs) that have been on the market for years. I own two of the three included in the box already but on this first legitimate release we get a little clearer sound quality.

The really cool thing about this is that while there is a plethora of live albums involving Miles' electric period and a few with Coltrane, this quintet doesn't always get recognized despite the legendary names it includes. The quintet features a scintillating Wayne Shorter who had only recently joined the group after the short tint of fellow great George Coleman, on sax. This is the same quintet that recorded E.S.P., Miles SmilesSorcerer and Nefertiti. All albums that would lead up to Flies Of Kilimanjaro and of course In A Silent Way.

This was a fertile and prolific period for Miles and each of his band members. There are some fierce renditions of "All Blues" and "Footprints" where Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are in blistering form. These were true "young lions" quickly becoming the benchmark for jazz to come. Miles sounds happy and inspired by his companions. His playing is crisp and sharp and at times free flowing. These tunes played on this date don't completely shed light on what would come only a few years later but you do get a sense of Miles thinking more about the freedom of space for his members to create within. "Masqualero" played at each of the three nights in this box is intense and has an aggression that pulls the listener in with each note. Shorter, Hancock and Miles drill you into a meditative mood with great ease.

The dates recorded here find a group that was in fine form and played with exquisite speed and beauty. And while some may ask, why do I need to buy another Miles record? Well the short answer is, because its Miles silly. But seriously, Live In Europe 1967 really did deserve an official treatment and release. The accompanying DVD of live footage also adds to how great this quintet was. And surprisingly the box is reasonably priced making it affordable for collectors and those wanted to investigate a different side of Miles live. You can also check out some of JazzWraps other thoughts on great Miles Davis live albums here.

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