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.
This CD is a compilation of some of Miles Davis's earliest recordings as a sideman from the late 1940s. His formative years are represented here in a large group setting. The groups featured here are scaled down or actual big bands. This CD is probably most dominated by the arrangements of Tadd Dameron, arguably the definitive arranger-composer of the bop era.