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 ...
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. But this quintet was never recorded as a lone studio group, making this the first officially released music from the monster "third quintet." Three discs and a DVD offer four concerts: two from Antibes and one from Stockholm are on audio discs, while a performance from Berlin is on video. The set lists vary but offer something remarkable as a whole: The only period where Davis played music from his bebop, hard bop, modal, and electric eras on one tour. In Antibes, "Directions" opens at a furious tempo with freewheeling solos from Davis and Shorter. It morphs into "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," featuring an aggressive Holland bassline and DeJohnette's machine gun drums. There is a completely re-envisioned "Milestones" that materializes from the bass solo. Shorter and Davis play with a muscular, intense, communicative freedom that reaches its creative peak here. The rhythm section, emboldened by the front line, is wildly inventive. Corea plays an exceptionally large role. By 1969, Davis was using not only electric guitar in the studio, but often multiple keyboard players simultaneously. Corea is everywhere as a rhythmic and harmonic counterpart, and as a visionary soloist. His chord voicings on "'Round Midnight" move from skeletal to maximal as the tune is thoroughly reinvented from its spare melody into a nearly funky modal jam with him leading the way. Highlights from the second Antibes gig include a blistering "Spanish Key," driven by Holland and DeJohnette, followed by a brief, lyrical "I Fall in Love Too Easily," preceding an angular, exciting "Masqualero," with fiery interaction between Shorter and Corea. "No Blues," a band solo showcase, gives way to a nearly shimmering swing in "Nefertiti" that unmakes itself after Shorter's solo, eventually gathering steam for a galloping group exchange before shifting to more relaxed pacing, then re-energizing along different harmonic lines. In Stockholm, the 14-minute "Bitches Brew" is revealed to be still evolving; harmonic and rhythmic ideas are thrown into the mix minute-by-minute. "Paraphernalia" is almost free jazz. Davis' solo on set-closer "This," is risky and physically strident. The DVD offers a gorgeous, color, multi-camera shoot, with terrific sound. The band's intuitive, concentrated interaction is mesmerizing to watch. Seeing and hearing them move seamlessly -- even dramatically -- through "It's About That Time"/"I Fall in Love Too Easily"/"Sanctuary" reveals Davis' in the present viewing the past as a gateway to his musical future. It's obvious here that he freely embraced the sonic, textural, and timbral possibilities that electricity offered him in creating a more open, in-the-moment, music. Live in Europe, 1969 makes obvious that on this tour, Davis' creative vision was holistic and completely assured. 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. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi