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Album Review: Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 2 by Miles Davis Quintet
Exceptionally Good, Based on 6 Critics
PopMatters - 100 Based on rating 10/10
Those unsure what to make of the massive and still mounting set of Miles Davis box sets and reissues should put their mind at ease. Though there are lesser releases than others—Bitches Brew Live is solid but not revelatory, for example—for the most part we’re still learning Miles. Still piecing him together, parsing out what was myth and what was real, what was man and what was musician.
"It was really a bad motherfucker," Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography of the live band he led in 1969. With somewhat less panache, Davis completists have pegged the group the Lost Quintet, since, unlike the two longstanding Davis five-pieces that preceded it, this one never made a proper studio recording. All of the members-- saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette-- appear on 1970's landmark Bitches Brew and other scattered sessions from the time, but only as part of larger ensembles; until now, if you wanted to hear them as a stripped-down unit, you had to consult imports, bootlegs and YouTube.
Four complete concerts, one on DVD, in a must-have package. Miles devotees call this quintet – with Chick Corea on keyboard, Wayne Shorter on sax, Jack DeJohnette on drums and British bassist Dave Holland – the "lost band" because it never made a studio album. Indeed it is a kind of missing link between the long line of classic, acoustic Davis quintets and the high-energy electric outfits of the 70s and after.
When this Miles Davis group came to the Hammersmith Odeon in 1969, the post-match disputes the jazz equivalent of the Dylan electric guitars controversy, over whether this fusion bombshell was jazz any more stretched from the exits to the tube station and long into the night. This three-CD/DVD package from that European tour provides all the answers we couldn't then, and for newer listeners represents the sound of Davis, and jazz, at a moment of transition. Wayne Shorter is on saxes, Chick Corea on keys, Dave Holland on bass and an incandescent Jack DeJohnette on drums.
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.
An important, enlightening document of Miles in a state of stylistic transition. Alyn Shipton 2013 The first volume of this bootleg series of Miles Davis sessions featured the 1967 quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. And it was, of course, good to have further examples of this band in action. But that set’s importance pales into insignificance beside volume 2 – a 3-CD (plus DVD) package of the 1969 quintet.