Miles Davis Quintet – Live in Europe 1967: Best of Bootleg Vol. 1 (2011)

Miles Davis Quintet - Live in Europe 1967: Best of Bootleg Vol. 1 (2011)
Artist: Miles Davis Quintet
Album: Live in Europe 1967: Best of Bootleg Vol. 1
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year Of Release: 2011
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

01. Agitation (5:26)
02. On Green Dolphin Street (8:31)
03. Footprints (9:34)
04. Introduction (1:39)
05. ‘Round Midnight (7:17)
06. No Blues (14:41)
07. Masqualero (10:04)
08. Gingerbread Boy (5:56)
09. The Theme (1:05)
10. The Theme (8:23)


For those unwilling by necessity or desire to purchase the four-disc box set of the The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1, the single-disc Best of Bootleg, Vol. 1: Live in Europe 1967 comp will either satisfy on its own, or whet one’s appetite for the entire package. The box was compiled from three 1967 concert performances by Davis’ second great quintet — Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams — in Antwerp, Copenhagen, and Paris on three CDs; the beautifully shot back-and-white DVD in the set contains two more shows from Germany and Sweden. The Antwerp and Paris gigs have been bootlegged previously (the latter was missing two tracks which were restored on the box). The Copenhagen concert was previously unheard. Since the set lists for each concert were remarkably similar — though the performances were markedly different — this single disc culls selections from the three cities on the CDs and assembles them as a single, deeply satisfying set by the quintet. The material includes three Davis tunes, “Agitation” (the official opener each night), “No Blues,” and the gig ending “The Theme,” Shorter’s “Footprints” and “Masqualero, and three standards, “‘Round Midnight,” “Gingerbread Boy,” and “On Green Dolphin Street.” Inexplicably, the compilers chose two very different versions of “The Theme,” instead of including Hancock’s “Riot.” That complaint aside, this disc offers a stellar portrait of the fiery, innovative jazz this quintet were playing near the end of their four-year tenure (they split in 1968, having been Davis’ longest running band). The sheer intensity in “Masqualero” and “Agitation” showcases individual solos so intuitive, dynamic, and harmonically rich, they are worth the purchase price alone. The interpretations of the standards are actual re-visionings of them; they reveal just how far this band pushed the post-hard bop, post-modal envelopes, toward the vanguard territory broached by John Coltrane. Davis’ own playing — sans mute — is sharp and muscular; in partial response to the younger players’ energy, but also because the material dictated an aggressive interplay. Given its price tag and length — nearly 80 minutes — the single volume Best of Bootleg, Vol. 1 is worthy because it offers an actual portrait, rather than a sampling, of a band at the very peak of its creative power.
Review by Thom Jurek

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