A 3CD box set collection chronicling Miles’ musical evolution in the studio from 1966-1968 working with his “second great quintet,” the latest edition in Columbia/Legacy’s acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series provides an unprecedented look into the artist’s creative process, drawing on full session reels including all rehearsals, partial and alternate takes, extensive and fascinating studio conversation and more. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Miles Smiles, the groundbreaking second studio album from the Miles Davis Quintet–Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums)–this definitive new collection includes the master takes of performances which would appear on the Miles Smiles (1967), Nefertiti (1968) and Water Babies (recorded 1967, released 1976) albums alongside more than two hours worth of previously unreleased studio recordings from original sessions produced by Teo Macero (with the exception of “Fall,” produced by Howard A. Roberts).
On May 19, 1961, Miles Davis was showcased at a Carnegie Hall concert, performing with his quintet of the time (tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb) and, for the first time in public, the Gil Evans Orchestra. Although thought of by some later on as being in an off period since he was between innovations, Miles' trumpet chops were actually in prime form during 1961-63, as he shows throughout the date. All of the music on this 1998 two-CD set has been out before, either on the original LP of the same name or on the later album More Music From the Legendary Carnegie Hall Concert, but this is the first time that the two sets have been reproduced in their original order.
Produced with loving care by Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, with no edits or overdubs, this document of Miles Davis's Montreux performances shows through never-before-released material how Miles and company transformed his music live, with their fire, invention, and interplay. The list of sidemen on these dates is a who's who of today's superstars, including saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarists John Scofield and Robben Ford, keyboardists Adam Holzman and Kei Akagi, bassist Michael Henderson, and percussionist Mtume. Most of the music on these discs features versions of Davis's fusion "hits." The funky and R&B-ish ditty "Ife" and the bouncy "Calypso Frelimo" are rendered with more gusto than their studio versions, as are the in-the-pocket, mid-'80s tunes "Star People" and "New Blues." A package this big has more than a few surprises, however. Chaka Khan lends her powerful pipes to Davis's unique cover of the Michael Jackson sleeper, "Human Nature," and "Al Jarreau" is an upbeat (though too short) tribute to the great vocalise master.
From the opening four notes of Michael Henderson's hypnotically minimal bass that open the unedited master of "On the Corner," answered a few seconds later by the swirl of color, texture, and above all rhythm, it becomes a immediately apparent that Miles Davis had left the jazz world he helped to invent – forever. The 19-minute-and-25-second track has never been issued in full until now. It is one of the 31 tracks in The Complete On the Corner Sessions, a six-disc box recorded between 1972 and 1975 that centers on the albums On the Corner, Get Up with It, and the hodgepodge leftovers collection Big Fun. It is also the final of eight boxes in the series of Columbia's studio sessions with Davis from the 1950s through 1975, when he retired from music before his return in the 1980s. Previously issued have been Davis' historic sessions with John Coltrane in the first quintet, the Gil Evans collaborations, the Seven Steps to Heaven recordings, the complete second quintet recordings, and the complete In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Jack Johnson sessions. There have been a number of live sets as well; the most closely related one to this is the live Cellar Door Sessions 1970, issued in 2005.
The first volume Legacy’s Miles Davis bootleg series offered audio and video evidence of his second great quintet playing the Newport Jazz Festival in Europe in 1967. Acclaim from critics and fans was universal. This second entry, Live in Europe 1969: Bootleg Series, Vol. 2, showcases almost an entirely different band – only saxophonist Wayne Shorter remains. Bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and pianist Chick Corea made up Davis' road band, and other individuals participated in sessions for Filles de Kilimanjaro and In a Silent Way. These fire-breathing performances offer a band at fever pitch hearing and playing what they knew even then was a new chapter in jazz history.
Live Miles consists of two parts, which were both recorded live. "Livemiles I" was recorded during the American tour of 1986, while "Livemiles II" was captured at a concert to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Berlin. As usual with TD, the audience had no clue of what they were going to experience while attending one of those concerts. During that era it was rather common for TD to improvise much of the music on the spot. So when you listen to a live record of TD you mostly hear new music that isn't available as a studio version. The extended pieces displayed on Live Miles cover many musical moods and textures throughout the playing time of almost half an hour: from slow and haunting, through up-tempo and uplifting; from driving and percussive, to grand and majestic. It's all present on both tracks!