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Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991

The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991

by Miles Davis
Columbia Records has been diligent about going through Miles Davis' massive catalog, painstakingly remastering and reissuing his collected works in both handsome box sets sorted by period and actual releases annotated with extra material from their attendant sessions, but this gargantuan set marks a true departure for them. The Complete Miles Davis Live at


Columbia Records has been diligent about going through Miles Davis' massive catalog, painstakingly remastering and reissuing his collected works in both handsome box sets sorted by period and actual releases annotated with extra material from their attendant sessions, but this gargantuan set marks a true departure for them. The Complete Miles Davis Live at Montreux 1973-1991 compiles 20 CDs documenting every performance by the trumpeter at the famed Swiss jazz festival in its entirety. What's more, 19 of these volumes have never before been issued in any form. Aside from disc 19, which features the Miles band playing acoustically in front of a large orchestra conducted by Quincy Jones in 1991 (which was released by Warner Bros.) and a few selected cuts tacked onto other recordings, none of this material has seen the light of day anywhere. There is a story told here, one that streams light into the darkened corners of Davis' final public period, and one that challenges evidentially virtually every jazz nerd's view that as a bandleader or as a creative improvisational force, Davis was finished after the release of On the Corner. Part of that story is the intuitive sense Davis had of the bandstand and what could be accomplished there. His uncanny ability to pick the finest musicians for the job at hand was illustrated by his stage direction. Another argument for this material is that, even if it doesn't vindicate the studio material of the time, which is rightfully thought of as inferior to his earlier work (with the possible exceptions of the Decoy and Tutu albums), it at least justifies it; these recordings can now be seen as piecemeal explorations of what might be possible in concert settings -- not as rehearsals, but as source material. Lastly, as documented here, Davis accomplished everything he set out to do, which was to take the sophistication of jazz, the accessibility of pop, and the sheer groove of R&B and funk, to create a new American music that was familiar and challenging. Also, that virtually everything here comes off as emotionally honest, even painstakingly so, is a testament to the heart of the musician and, yes, the man. Discs one and two from 1973 represent Miles' first and only appearance during that decade at Montreux -- represented by two full sets. The band was a stellar one: the Dark Magus band, featuring saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarists Reggie Lucas and Pete Cosey, drummer Al Foster, new bassist Michael Henderson, and percussionist Mtume. The rest of the material picks up at the end of the infamous "silent years," exactly 11 years later in 1984, and moves through to the virtual end -- a bonus to the set is a concert in Nice just before the trumpeter died (there are a pair of California dates that are later, but these will be forthcoming at a later date). The 1973 date embodies the epitome of the dark, swirling funk of Davis' best '70s material. Here Henderson adds something new to the rhythm section in that he is not a jazz player, but a funk player swiped by Davis from the Stevie Wonder band. His long chunky repetitive riffs are exactly what Davis had been looking for since In a Silent Way. His shift was toward vamps and lines that drifted along into completely uncharted territory, without guidelines like changes or melodic frames. There is a deep bluesy feel to this band's brand of acid voodoo funk that is not only hypnotic, but intoxicating in its dynamic, with the musicians' ability to be frighteningly aggressive -- you can hear the audience's confusion -- or seductive and mysterious. This is all improvisation, all groove, all manner of rock, blues, jazz, and funk in an inseparable endless knot. The two discs are notated by three parts of "Miles in Montreux," the best take of "Ife" there is, and a gorgeously menacing "Calypso Frelimo." But the real story actually begins with discs three and four (five and six are all part of the same day's shows -- there were four on July 8, two in the afternoon and two in the evening -- completely refuting the argument that Davis was lazy in his final decade). All members of the 1973 band except Foster had gone their own ways. The current lineup featured future Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, guitarist John Scofield, saxophonist Bob Berg, keyboardist Robert Irving III, and percussionist Steve Thornton. With this band, Miles began his complete integration of popular music forms, most notably song, into his improvisational settings. Here, songs like "Star People" and the Eaves and Williams classic "Something's on Your Mind" were given an open treatment that allowed for maximum groove-ology, leading to minimal interference by the temptation to "make them jazz." This band began to sing, with Berg's strong, upfront tenor matching Miles' more spare and lyrical style. Scofield, with his roots in both Wes Montgomery and T-Bone Walker, provided a perfect foil for the rhythm section, which plotted the groove according to Miles' Zen-like live directions, his counterpoint so subtle and precise it would be impossible to separate him from the melodic body of the tune being played. Nowhere is the story of Miles or his band told more completely or nakedly than in disc four's version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Needless to say, with so many shows being done each year (and, as noted, multiple shows in a single day), the set lists for a given year's performances (and for virtually the entire late '80s) vary only slightly. Performances, however, are another matter entirely. "Time After Time" is showcased on this set no less than nine times. Each version is truly compelling, of a different length, in a different place in the set, and of varying intensity. But nowhere does Davis express the depths of his soul more completely and nakedly than on the first track of disc four. This is Miles singing a kind of secret song. The lyricism is so harmonically elegant and the emotion in the melodic line and ensuing improvisation is so honest that they are heartbreakingly beautiful. Without exaggeration, listeners had never heard Miles Davis like this before. Here is the bandleader, composer, cultural icon, musician, and human being reduced to the purity of music. The fact that this moves off into "Hopscotch/Star on Cicely" reveals even more of its emotional honesty, because the band does an about-face and moves into equally lyrical but rhythmically more intense music for the rest of the set. Disc 11 marks another turn in the live band saga, in that Robben Ford replaces Scofield and Adam Holzman is added as a second keyboardist, with Felton Crews replacing Jones on bass. This band is significant in that it allowed Davis to begin to experiment more with textures, even in the older material -- the first set from 1986 begins with the "Theme From Jack Johnson" that kicks off a medley including "One Phone Call/Street Scenes" and "That's What Happened." The rhythmic atmosphere is more lush but no less funky, thanks in no small part to Ford's fiery guitar artistry and the entwining of Berg's and Davis' styles now developed to a symbiotic intensity. As the set closes with "Tutu" and "Splatch," listeners can already heard the advent of the gorgeous sonic tapestries that Miles would usher in when he added two bass players a short time later. Moving up through disc 18 and on to disc 20, the twin basslineup of Joe "Foley" McReary on lead bass and Benny Rietveld on bass proper is heard. Also, it should be noted that while tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza plays on half of the performances from this period, and with a great strength, agility, and verve never displayed in his own recordings, it is Kenny Garrett who offered Davis more in terms of pure expression and the willingness to let the boundaries fall. In fact, Garrett actually offered Davis more musical adventure and tonal expansion than any saxophonist who played with him since John Coltrane. While the band was taking its funk stride to new levels -- so much so that Al Foster, a longtime Miles drummer, finally left and was replaced by Vincent Wilburn Jr. -- Garrett kept the jazz experimentalism and improvisational power that the band was capable of front and center. Check his solos on "Jean-Pierre," Prince's "Movie Star," and "Tomaas" on disc 14 for references. The previously issued orchestral disc 19 was intended to re-create the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations. It is a necessary inclusion here since it took place at Montreux, but it is a Quincy Jones outing more than anything else. On it, Wallace Roney instead of Davis played some of the sight-read parts, and while the music is certainly competent and dynamically rich, it feels overblown and, well, staged. The final disc of the set was not from Montreux at all but from a concert in Nice, France, 11 days after the Jones/Davis event. This featured a new kind of Davis band, stripped of its percussionist and guitarist. Garrett is there with Miles leading the band through very intricate, moving, and ultimately sad material. The twin basses carry the spirit of the music into the no man's land of groove while the keyboards and drums punch through the winsome and wistful horn parts. Ultimately, not every performance of every tune here is stellar. How could they be? Some years are stronger than others, but none are throwaways by a long shot. Each gig has moments that are truly magical and frightening in their intensity and with astonishing communication between Davis and his band. And Davis' memory does not have an editor to thank here, in that these performances are completely unedited and are not messed with in any way -- the original mixes were used for release. The only truly annoying thing is that whoever was recording the shows would switch the deck off between tunes, and therefore some of the magic at the end of a track, when the audience absorbs it completely, is lost. But this is a very small complaint for a very large box set. The liner notes are reminiscences by Montreux founder and director Claude Nobs with production and musical annotations by German jazz journalist Nick Liebman. The design is beautiful but a bit impractical, since the only way to know what is playing on what disc is to use the enclosed book -- the CDs are divided up into two booklets of ten. It's true, it will really appeal most to those fans of Davis who have to have everything and to those who are completely enamored with his electric period. But it should be of interest to every rock fan who holds the jam band aesthetic high, to die-hard fans of '70s and '80s acid funk, and to those who have been desperately looking for proof that Miles was not only not artistically bankrupt during the last 20 years of his life, but had finally succeeded in accomplishing his goal of total integration of the musical forms that obsessed him.

Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. Miles in Montreux '73, No. 1
  2. Miles in Montreux '73, No. 2

Disc 2

  1. Ife
  2. Calypso Frelimo
  3. Miles in Montreux '73, No. 3

Disc 3

  1. Speak; That's What Happened
  2. Star People
  3. What It Is
  4. It Gets Better
  5. Something's on Your Mind

Disc 4

  1. Time After Time
  2. Hopscotch/Star on Cicely
  3. Bass Solo
  4. Jean-Pierre
  5. Lake Geneva
  6. Something's on Your Mind (Reprise)

Disc 5

  1. Speak/That's What Happened
  2. Star People
  3. What It Is
  4. It Gets Better
  5. Something's on Your Mind

Disc 6

  1. Time After Time
  2. Hopscotch/Star on Cicely
  3. Bass Solo
  4. Jean-Pierre
  5. Lake Geneva
  6. Something's on Your Mind (Reprise)
  7. Code M.D.

Disc 7

  1. Theme from Jack Johnson/One Phone Call/Street Scenes/That's What ...
  2. Star People
  3. Maze
  4. Human Nature
  5. MD1/Something's on Your Mind/MD2
  6. Time After Time
  7. Ms. Morrisine

Disc 8

  1. Code M.D.
  2. Pacific Express
  3. Katia
  4. Hopscotch
  5. You're Under Arrest
  6. Jean-Pierre/You're Under Arrest/Then There Were None
  7. Decoy

Disc 9

  1. Theme from Jack Johnson/One Phone Call/Street Scenes/That's What ...
  2. Star People
  3. Maze
  4. Human Nature
  5. MD1/Something's on Your Mind/MD2
  6. Time After Time

Disc 10

  1. Ms. Morrisine
  2. Code M.D.
  3. Pacific Express
  4. Katia
  5. Hopscotch
  6. You're Under Arrest
  7. Jean-Pierre/You're Under Arrest/Then There Were None
  8. Decoy

Disc 11

  1. Theme from Jack Johnson/One Phone Call/Street Scenes/That's What ...
  2. New Blues
  3. Maze
  4. Human Nature
  5. Wrinkle
  6. Tutu
  7. Splatch

Disc 12

  1. Time After Time
  2. Al Jarreau
  3. Carnival Time
  4. Burn
  5. Portia
  6. Jean-Pierre

Disc 13

  1. In a Silent Way
  2. Intruder
  3. New Blues
  4. Perfect Way
  5. The Senate/Me and U
  6. Human Nature
  7. Wrinkle
  8. Tutu
  9. Time After Time

Disc 14

  1. Movie Star
  2. Splatch
  3. Heavy Metal Prelude
  4. Heavy Metal
  5. Don't Stop Me Now
  6. Carnival Time
  7. Jean-Pierre
  8. Tomaas

Disc 15

  1. Intruder
  2. New Blues
  3. Perfect Way
  4. Hannibal
  5. Human Nature
  6. Mr. Pastorius
  7. Tutu

Disc 16

  1. Jilli
  2. Time After Time
  3. Jo-Jo
  4. Amandla
  5. The Senate/Me and U
  6. Wrinkle
  7. Portia

Disc 17

  1. Perfect Way
  2. New Blues
  3. Hannibal
  4. The Senate/Me and U
  5. In the Night
  6. Human Nature
  7. Time After Time

Disc 18

  1. Wrinkle
  2. Tutu
  3. Don't Stop Me Now
  4. Carnival Time

Disc 19

  1. Introduction by Claude Nobs and Quincy Jones
  2. Boplicity
  3. Introduction to Miles Ahead Medley/Springsville
  4. Maids of Cadiz
  5. The Duke
  6. My Ship
  7. Miles Ahead
  8. Blues for Pablo
  9. Introduction to Porgy and Bess Medley
  10. Orgone
  11. Gone, Gone, Gone
  12. Summertime
  13. Here Come de Honey Man
  14. Introduction to Sketches of Spain/The Pan Piper
  15. Solea

Disc 20

  1. Perfect Way
  2. New Blues
  3. Hannibal
  4. Human Nature
  5. Time After Time
  6. Wrinkle

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Miles Davis   Primary Artist,Organ,Trumpet,Keyboards
George Adams   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Benny Bailey   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Bob Berg   Keyboards,Saxophone
Jerry Bergonzi   Tenor Saxophone
George Duke   Synthesizer,Guest Appearance
Robben Ford   Guitar
Gil Goldstein   Keyboards
George Gruntz   Piano,Leader
Robert Irving   Keyboards
Quincy Jones   Conductor
Bob Malach   Clarinet,Flute,Alto Saxophone
Tom "Bones" Malone   Trombone
David Sanborn   Saxophone,Guest Appearance
John Scofield   Guitar
Lew Soloff   Trumpet
Marvin Stamm   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Tom Varner   French Horn
Jack Walrath   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Howard Johnson   Tuba,Baritone Saxophone
Mike Richmond   Bass
Manfred Schoof   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Grady Tate   Drums
Kei Akagi   Keyboards
John D'earth   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Wallace Roney   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Soloist
Alex Foster   Flute,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
John Clark   French Horn
Reggie Lucas   Guitar
Kenwood Dennard   Percussion,Drums
Adam Holzman   Keyboards
Foley   Vocals
Dave Bargeron   Trombone,Euphonium
Carles Benavent   Bass
Alex Brofsky   French Horn
Delmar Brown   Keyboards
Julian Cawdry   Flute,Alto Flute,Piccolo
Chaka Khan   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Pete Cosey   Guitar
Felton Crews   Bass
Roland Dahinden   Trombone
Xavier Duss   Oboe
Reiner Erb   Bassoon
Miles Evans   Trumpet
Foster   Drums
Hanspeter Frehner   Flute,Alto Flute,Piccolo
Kenny Garrett   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Soloist
Christian Gavillet   Bass Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Sal Giorgianni   Alto Saxophone
Conrad Herwig   Trombone
Munyungo Jackson   Percussion
Deron Johnson   Keyboards
Darryl Jones   Bass,Track Performer
David Liebman   Flute,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
James Mtume   Synthesizer,Percussion,Conga
Rick Margitza   Tenor Saxophone
Marilyn Mazur   Percussion
Earl McIntyre   Trombone,Euphonium
Anne O'Brien   Flute
Richard Patterson   Bass,Vocals
Claudio Pontiggia   French Horn
Christian Rabe   Bassoon
Benny Rietveld   Bass
Roger Rosenberg   Bass Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Ack Van Rooyen   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Xenia Schindler   Harp
Larry Schneider   Clarinet,Flute,Oboe,Tenor Saxophone
Dave Seghezzo   Oboe
Steve Thornton   Percussion
Michel Weber   Clarinet
Ricky Wellman   Drums
Judith Wenziker   Oboe
Vince Wilburn   Drums
Tilman Zahn   Oboe
George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band   Track Performer
Gil Evans Orchestra   Track Performer
Michael J. Henderson   Bass
Erin Davis   Percussion

Technical Credits

Léo Delibes   Composer
George Gershwin   Composer
Cyndi Lauper   Composer
Miles Davis   Arranger,Composer,Artwork
Robert Irving   Arranger,Composer
Quincy Jones   Producer
John Scofield   Composer
Hubert Eaves   Composer
Adam Holzman   Arranger,Liner Notes
John Bettis   Composer
James "D-Train" Williams   Composer
Gil Evans   Composer
David Gamson   Composer
Green Gartside   Composer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Steve Lukather   Composer
Joe Foley McCreary   Composer
Marcus Miller   Composer
David Paich   Composer
Steve Porcaro   Composer
Louise Velazquez   Executive Producer
Claude Nobs   Liner Notes,Executive Producer
David Richards   Engineer,Live Mixing
DuBose Heyward   Composer
Cleo Henry   Composer

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