Massive electric Miles from the same Japanese tour that gave the world the Panagaea and Agharta albums – tracks that were recorded ten days before the concert that appeared on those records, with different songs as well! The music is a dark brew of funk, fusion, and some surprisingly spiritual currents – thanks to wonderful work from Sonny Fortune on alto, soprano sax, and flute – working here alongside guitarist Pete Cosey, who provides plenty of the fuzzier, freakier moments of the set – as does keyboardist Reggie Lucas! Al Foster's drumming is wonderful – and Michael Henderson's bass will blow you away if you only know his later smoother soul albums – but as usual, Miles is the star once he opens up his horn and steps into the darkness.
The early-to-mid 1970s marked perhaps the most unique and radical period in Miles Davis' career. With bands such as Sly & The Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic becoming increasingly popular, Davis began to draw considerable influence from their uptempo, electronic funk sound. As his then recently-developed penchant for including longer and longer compositions on his albums continued, Davis enlisted the talents of some of the finest jazz fusion players around, including John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and Billy Cobham. With their abilities at hand, Davis would produce a trio of studio LPs that would be considered among the best in his catalogue: In A Silent Way (1969), Bitches Brew (1970) and Jack Johnson (1971).
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.