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. 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.
Bessie Smith, even on the evidence of her earliest recordings, well deserved the title "Empress of the Blues" for in the 1920s there was no one in her league for emotional intensity, honest blues feeling, and power. The second of five volumes (the first four are two-CD sets) finds her accompaniment improving rapidly with such sympathetic sidemen as trombonist Charlie Green, cornetist Joe Smith, and clarinetist Buster Bailey often helping her out. However, they are overshadowed by Louis Armstrong, whose two sessions with Smith (nine songs in all) fall into the time period of this second set; particularly classic are their versions of "St. Louis Blues," "Careless Love Blues," and "I Ain't Goin' to Play Second Fiddle." Other gems on this essential set include "Cake Walkin' Babies From Home," "The Yellow Dog Blues," and "At the Christmas Ball."
Following the history lesson of volume 1, The Perfect Beats, Volume 2 reaches a little wider in its selection of electro-boogie, hip-hop, and freestyle oldies. This seems to be the set's unofficial "happy" disc–some of the fastest cuts are on this volume, as well as the lightest and most playful.