Album Reviews

Miles Davis Quintet

Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol.5

Artist:     Miles Davis Quintet

Album:     Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol.5

Label:     Sony Legacy

Release Date:     10/21/2016


With its false starts, rehearsal reels and studio chatter, this latest installment of the revelatory Miles Bootleg Series may not be as exciting to listen to as its four hot-shit live predecessors, but it’s equally as enticing and as scintillating a discovery as any of the previous sets. For here, we get to the dark, creative heart of Miles’ second great quintet, namely Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams.

Kiln fired in the upheavals of 1966-68, Miles and his spokesmen had things to say, and the music made damn sure you listened. Never settled, never comfortable, the music undulates like a roiling protest towards confrontation, resulting in the watermark Miles Smiles, inarguably the quintet’s most lasting statement. (“Orbits,” “Footprints,” “Circle” and “Dolores” anyone?) Muted blues, modal stretches, creative abandonment, subtle, graceful solos… Every idea was reckoned with, but only the edgy and the vital won out. (Davis’ right hand man, producer Teo Macero, saw to that.) As the unpredictable, dissonant explorations of Nefertiti (’68) shift their sonic shapes (“Nefertiti,” “Fall”) the band, like everything else at this fiery and often fearful moment of world change, begins to feel Miles’ vision, sound and head expanding into the groundbreaking, jazz-rock, electronic landscapes that would birth Filles de Kilimanjaro, In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. “Play yer eight.” Indeed.

-Mike Jurkovic

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