Although it is not noted on the outside cover and is even difficult to discern from the inside liner notes, this is a live recording of the short-lived group, caught at a show at an unnamed venue in 1997. Regardless of the rather mysterious nature of the disc, it's a terrific representation of the foursome's phenomenal instrumental chops. The triple guitar/drums lineup cherry-picks tracks from their studio albums, both of which are out of print as of this disc's appearance in early 2004. Hence, it's the only way to hear this adventurous quartet deconstruct/reconstruct and mix and match the funk, jazz, and avant-garde qualities of the music of James Brown, Thelonious Monk, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
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.
Filmed at Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival in 1999, the concert (also available on CD) features some of the genre's best players, like pianist Bob James and guitarist Larry Carlton, both of whom appear with their own bands, backing other musicians, and with their group Fourplay. Also on hand are keyboardist George Duke, saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Boney James, Kirk Whalum, and Mark Turner, and trumpeter Rick Braun. The performances are all good; these fellows can play, and singers Kevin Mahogany and Gabriela Anders are no slouches either.