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.
Miles Away, a compilation of songs by Miles Davis. Released in 2008 on Not Now Music. On top of that, the sound is alright, the packaging is elegant (a fold-out digipak, with cool b&w photos of Miles beneath each disc), and we even get brief, informative liner notes. Not Now Music are getting dangerously good at this budget comp thing.
Many musicians lived and were musically active during multiple jazz periods, and some of them actually made significant contributions during all of the periods during which they recorded. But few can claim, as Miles Davis could, to have actually helped design the architecture in every case. Bebop, cool, and fusion all have Davis' handprints deep in the cement of their foundations, and this disc documents some of his best work during the second of those periods. In the mid-'50s he started what would be a tumultuous musical relationship with John Coltrane, and what would eventually become one of the greatest combos in jazz history began to coalesce: alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones in addition to Davis and Coltrane.
I'm very fond of Miles' '70s "electric" period, especially the dark, deep live albums he recorded during this time (namely Dark Magus and Agharta). This disc, which gives MD the big-band treatment, offers many pleasures of its own, although, for my money, neither Cugny nor anyone else (save maybe Bill Laswell) has ever reached the same primal place that Miles did during this time. Excellent album! This album is something special. Great atmosphere, 60 minutes of pure enjoying.