Miles Davies: Live in Europe 1969

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COMPOSERS: Miles Davies
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Miles Davies: Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 2
WORKS: Live in Europe 1969
PERFORMER: Miles Davies (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (sax), Chick Corea (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack Dejohnette (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 88725418532

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The first two CDs were recorded at Antibes in July 1969, the third and the DVD date from concerts in November in Stockholm and Berlin respectively. Between these European visits Davis laid down the music that became Bitches Brew. Although the band’s style and personnel were in transition (Holland was settled, but Corea and DeJohnette alternated with others) it sounds tight and swaggeringly confident, approaching with equal aplomb old favourites like ‘No Blues’ and material being road-tested for his studio album Bitches Brew.

Unlike the often cluttered music on that album, these sessions are hard and pure, the open-structured ebb and flow of the music sweeping you towards, then, largely uncharted waters. Holland is on brilliantly virtuosic form, Shorter’s attacks on the material are ferocious yet controlled, and Davis is, as ever, the dark magus, threading the elements together with incisive economy. 

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Barry Witherden