The first volume in Legacy’s series of Miles Davis concerts focused on 1967 and the well-documented quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Volume 2 is more of a revelation: three 1969 European concerts from a quintet never heard as such on any officially sanctioned release until now.
Only Davis and Shorter remained from ’67; the rhythm section’s pianist Chick Corea (sometimes on electric Fender Rhodes, sometimes acoustic), acoustic bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Just as daringly exploratory as their forerunners, this group makes familiar compositions new every time, even when the concerts are on successive nights, as with the Antibes shows of July 25 and 26 (also here is November 5 in Stockholm).
Corea’s glinting accompaniments and probing solos can be as spacious as his predecessors’, but are often more dense and distorted, emphasizing the break from the past even as the evolution is on display — it’s fascinating to hear this thoroughly modern band on such earlier classics as “Milestones,” “‘Round Midnight,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” and “No Blues” alongside kaleidoscopically reconfigured mid-’60s repertoire and Bitches Brew material.
The leader was at his peak of health and technical virtuosity, unleashing vicious runs, and with Holland and the aggressively polyrhythmic DeJohnette jacking the tempos, Shorter’s at his most driving even as his solos retain his trademark ellipticality. This is a must-own set of great musicality and historicity.