Miles Smiles

Buried within Miles Davis’ Complete Columbia Album Collection is the stunning Live in Europe ’67 DVD.

Caution: This is not an eraser
Caution: This is not an eraser

Miles Davis’ Complete Columbia Records Album Collection has been reduced to a 4GB USB drive that at least one reviewer has mistaken for an old fashioned pencil eraser – a digital companion to a limited edition, 70-disc anthology. Much like the hidden content in Neil Young's Archives Vol. 1, the crown jewel is actually the Live in Europe ’67 DVD.

Even after the trumpet titan’s catalog has been packaged and repackaged in every conceivable format – Columbia/Legacy’s impeccable metal-spine series being the obvious essential – this live collection is a breakthrough discovery, capturing two concerts in Stockholm, Sweden (Oct. 31) and Karlsruhe, Germany (Nov. 7), with magnificent black-and-white cinematography and pin-drop clarity.

Davis' second classic quintet – (in order of their on-stage introduction) tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams – are coming off of a whirlwind of studio activity that included 1965’s ESP and 1966’s Miles Smiles, not to mention Sorcerer and Nefertiti, both from that same year. Upon return to the States, Davis would turn electric for his first fusion foray, 1968’s Filles de Kilimanjaro, and with good reason. It’s as if the group is reaching the peak of its telepathic, acoustic alchemy here.

This is Gestalt effect at its finest, the parts inseparable from the whole and vice versa: Hancock with a chess master’s resolve in opener “Agitation,” contemplating his next move with sublime precision; Shorter’s eloquent solo bow in his original “Footprints”; Williams’ rapid fire calculations and free-falling exhibitionism in “The Theme”; Carter’s whirlwind standup bass herding the music together; and Davis, the very definition of urban cool, commanding full attention at every turn. While the sets are pretty much the same, including familiar standards “Walkin’” and “Round Midnight,” the playing is so effortlessly fierce, poised, and sophisticated, it doesn’t feel even slightly repetitive.

This exclusive set also boasts a 250-page book with a complete song index, his entire Isle of Wight festival performance from August 1970, and previously unreleased material from 1982’s live We Want Miles, but there’s been no shortage of negative feedback about the actual box set and there are no plans to issue the Live in Europe ’67 DVD as a standalone item. Thankfully, there’s always YouTube.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Miles Davis
Box Sets
Miles Davis
Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary

Austin Powell, Dec. 17, 2010

Summertime Blues
The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's 'Kind of Blue' and the Remaking of Modern Music
Gonna raise a fuss, gonna raise a holler: rock & roll books

Jay Trachtenberg, June 11, 2010

More by Austin Powell
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re playing

July 31, 2020

Record Review: The Young
Record Review: The Young

Aug. 22, 2014


Miles Davis

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle