Miles Davis Quintet
Box sets as catalog ghetto
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 23, 2011
Miles Davis QuintetLive Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy)
Trumpeter Miles Davis' second great quintet, arguably the preeminent small group in jazz history, had been performing together for three years by the time of this fall 1967 European tour. Calling it well-oiled and ahead of the curve would be a monumental understatement. Grounded by standards Davis had been playing for years ("'Round Midnight," "Walkin'," "On Green Dolphin Street") alongside original tunes from the quintet's five superlative albums – "Agitation," "Riot," "Masqualero," and, most notably, "Footprints" – the band would often barely state the theme before taking off on open-ended flights of improvisational daring and dazzling interplay. What's most remarkable about the music contained on this astounding 3-CD/1-DVD set of mostly unreleased material is how fresh and modern it still sounds today, nearly 45 years later. And, indeed, what prescience that national radio and television in France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany had in documenting it all. This incomparable band would shortly dissolve, but Davis, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams forged a template that profoundly influenced musicians for decades to come.