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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 20, 2011
Three discs-62,64,72 minutes each approximately. The sound is good, with good separation between the instruments, except the bass which is recorded/mixed a bit low in the music. The DVD is about 1 hour long. This is the same DVD released as part of the 2009 70 CD package of Davis' music, and it gives you a feel for the depth of playing from consummate musicians in this band. The discs are snapped inside a quad-fold wallet style cardboard holder. The 26 page booklet is loose inside the package-there's no "slot" for it, and it could easily fall out. There's an essay by Ashley Kahn, who has written about Davis, Coltrane, and other jazz greats. There's also a number of period b & w photos throughout the booklet. Track information is printed on the back of the package-some details in very small font-and also inside the booklet.

This has been a fine summer/fall for music, with the GRATEFUL DEAD releasing a 73 CD, Europe '72 package, the 4 CD Jimi Hendrix at Winterland compilation, and now this release from Miles Davis. It's also interesting that each of these groups had something in common-namely to push music somewhere new, exciting, and different.

This music, by Davis' second great band, was recorded in Europe while the band was part of the "Newport Jazz Festival in Europe" package. Also performing were Gary Burton, Archie Shepp, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, and others. This music by Davis' band has been bootlegged for years, so it's nice to hear an officially sanctioned release with good sound. If you've heard "Winter In Europe 1967", or the massive but fine "Live at the Plugged Nickel" set, then you have an idea in what direction this music is going.

Davis and the band were looking to play jazz in a new direction-"Even we didn't know where it was all going to. And every night I would have to react". As Davis has said about this band. Gone were the standard jazz changes-this band played a cooler, more abstract music, while still based in the blues. The band plays with a combination of logic, trust, and emotion. While the basic melody was used, Davis was playing in a more modal style. Even the format had changed-Davis would now blend the end of one song into the next, with no formal start or stop. His playing is lively and intelligent, and contains a lot of excitement. Shorter's sax, with a debt to Coltrane, was emotional and intelligent. Hancock could play anything from swing to be-bop, to this new style of jazz-listen to his piano playing, from rapid notes to delicate fills. Carter was an intelligent, sensitive bassist, and Williams (still a teenager) was a powerhouse drummer, who drove the band, yet could play with great finesse-listen to his cymbal work. George Wein (producer-"Newport Jazz Festival in Europe") was right when he said, "That group was not ahead of it's time. They were the time".

A number of these compositions are perfect examples of this new style. Listen to "Agitation", "Footprints", or even a well played tune like "Round Midnight", and you will hear a band that changed the music every night. Davis has said the band would discuss their playing every night (sometimes all night) and that the music changed every night-everything was in flux. But this band had a rhythm section that played as a single unit, and was a perfect foundation for both Shorter and Davis.

Having the chance to hear several compositions played throughout the tour is a chance to hear how the music did change every night. Something you might hear one night is gone the next. And in it's place is something else new-and that might disappear the next night. And that's what makes this box set so valuable, so exciting. Not only is the music first rate, but it's played differently in every composition. This band played so intuitively-both as a group and individually, that the music still swung, still had emotion, even when playing in uncharted waters. A number of tracks are lengthy, which gives the band time to expand and explore the music, especially in front of a European audience, who appreciate jazz on a level far higher than in the U.S. Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk into a concert hall, knowing you're about to hear one of the best groups in jazz history, to actually watch these artists, as they laid out this music in front of you-live in the moment? The DVD accompanying this set is, unfortunately not as well done as most would like. It's simply not up to most fans standards. It does give a good idea of what the looked and sounded like, but the quality, from TV station tapes, isn't all that great. But for me the music portion of this release is the most important.

This is one of the most exciting bands Davis ever had. And now with this set, we can hear the proof of that. This music was a living thing-it moved and morphed constantly. And with a band like this, the music was never less than good, and was, at it's best, some of the finest jazz in the world. Just sit back and listen to Davis solo, or Hancock, or Shorter, or Williams, or (occasionally) Carter, and you'll hear jazz at it's best.
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on September 24, 2011
this is my new winner. First off, the DVD is just the proverbial icing, and it's from different shows than the CDs, somebody cared to do this right. I loved the Highlights disc from The Plugged Nickel, even though Miles was not playing his best, the band still sounded inspired. Two years down the road, the inspiration is still flowing and Miles' technical facilities are back in full force. New material, at this point is like a fresh breathe and the "live" factor ups the ante considerably. These tunes, Agitation, Footprints, Riot, Masqualero, Gingerbread Boy are OK in their studio versions but "live" they're juggernauts, jumping off points for a band finding inspiration in the elasticity of the material. The tunes often flow one into another until you're completely lost in their quest for something original. IMHO This new release is the best example of Miles' great 2nd quintet at their apex, at a reasonable price and a great way to kick off this series. Now, if they could only find a place to store the booklet, we'll be all set. I marvel at how many jazz bands try to emulate the sound of this band, today. This is the source of that wellspring.
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on September 28, 2011
Columbia has done mostly a good job of repackaging Miles Davis in authoritative boxsets that are more-or-less complete. These 3 CD's improve on bootleg CD's in sound quality and completeness (the first two Paris tracks have never been issued).

But the DVD of the Karlsruhe performance features four compositions (plus "the theme"), while another DVD issue of this concert also includes a 9:16 performance of "Walkin'" (and a few seconds of Hancock's piano intro to "On Green Dolphin Street"), as does the big kitchen-sink Miles Davis Columbia box set. I understand that the estate of Richard Carpenter (not Karen's brother) demanded big bucks and Sony/Columbia wouldn't play ball. So be it, but you'll not find a word about this anywhere in the package. Note that "I Fall in Love Too Easily" is the only performance that was not edited for the TV broadcast that Columbia used for the DVD. There's no legit issue of this full concert.)

I'm very glad to have this package, and I'm glad Columbia has issued music in a systematic fashion (even if it means I've purchased KIND OF BLUE in at least five formats) -- but it's still disappointing that Columbia has not done this right. Funny, I just noticed that the credits at the end of the DVD, apparently from the 2009 box set, do list "Walkin' written by Richard Carpenter" -- oops.
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on December 6, 2011
If you're a fan of this second great quintet that Miles Davis had, then by buy this disc. But if you're the type who likes so-called "cool jazz" or the music of Kenny G, Kirk Whalum and other "smooth jazz" artists then this challenging music isn't for you. One reviewer ignorantly ranted that there's no variation in the tunes on this disc must be unaware that the performance of "Agitation" varies in mood and tempo from the Paris to the Belgium concert. The sound is mono but it's so well recorded that any true devotee of Miles will not mind--this disc is a monster!!
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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2015
Not sure why I waited so long to pick up volume 1 of this series. I very nearly settled for the highlights CD and I'm glad I didn't! This is an incredible collection of performances by THE QUINTET. I don't like using superlatives like "the greatest" but in this case I'm going to make an exception. I don't think there is really any question that this particular line up was the greatest small combo in jazz... ever! Five guys functioning independently as one organism is what this is. These guys are totally locked in to one another's playing at a level I just haven't heard anywhere else. Some will argue the Coltrane Quartet - and that ensemble was amazingly powerful, but I don't think it had the range this band has. Ok, enough superlatives:

The Packaging
Some have complained but I don't really see why. The chief complaint seems to be that there is no where to safely stow the very nice 30 page (counting both sides) booklet. This is no big deal, just slide it in between the two haves of the foldout cover, what more is needed. The booklet has a nice essay by Ashley Kahn who wrote the "Making of Kind of Blue" book - something EVERY Miles Davis aficionado should read by the way. There are lots of great classic shots - a couple which I have seen before in the remastered releases a few years back. As you can see, The package is designed like a couple of boxes of old reel-to-reel taps to mimic the old tape boxes where this music stayed hidden for so many years.. In short, I love the design. Very cool. Much better than the packaging for volume 2 of this series.

The Sound
I am not an audio-phile. I listen to music for the music and I honestly don't pay much attention to fidelity unless it is clearly getting in the way of the presentation. I don't hear any bothersome issues like that, this seems very high quality to me. To my ears these recordings are as clear as the Miles Davis official releases that preceded these recordings: Miles in Berlin, Miles in Europe, Miles in Tokyo, Four and More and My Funny Valentine... Or Both volumes of the Blackhawk recordings. The recording quality is absolutely better than Live at the Plugged Nickel and Carnegie Hall. Ok? If you own those releases and are happy with the sound you will positively gush with joy over this set.

The Music
What can I possibly say about this music that someone has not already said before? It's flippin' incredible, these guys can turn on a dime together from quiet and moody to explosive - they are simply UNREAL together. I mentioned a bunch of live releases above that all of us Miles aficionados own, right? I think these recordings are more enjoyable (I didn't say better) than ANY of those releases which is what led to the title of this review. This band is simultaneously free and tight, as a musician myself I can attest that this is something that can be pulled off by virtuoso players when the chemistry is exactly right. This ensemble is as close to perfection as a jazz band ever got and it really shows with these recordings!

The Vision
I've only watched one of the video concerts and I thought it was great! Someone elsewhere complained about the quality. Huh? What does one expect from a 1967 television broadcast? I suspect a spoiled American made that comment. I'm an American but I've spent many years living in Europe too and one has to remember that as America was enjoying episodes of Bewitched and Gilligan's Island in living color (both of these series started in B/W) European countries were STILL digging out from the devastation and rubble of WWII just 22 short years later. Most, if not all, television broadcasting was government owned. Those countries had far more important things to attend to than color television. So I said all of that to say this - The concert I watched (there are two) had a clear picture and great sound (to my ears). I fail to understand the complaint and really the black and white picture just adds to the ambiance!

If you are a Miles fan, especially of THE QUINTET, then you shouldn't even be reading this now, you should be finalizing your purchase!

Enjoy!
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on September 20, 2011
But I'm deducting a star for the packaging. As the first reviewer notes, there is no safe place for the booklet, which means that any of us who plan on keeping the set for a few decades will have to either contend with storing it safely elsewhere or remembering it's there.

Since this sort of item appeals mostly to fans, completists, obsessives, cranks (and we pay for the privilege) and since both the Dylan and Johnny Cash bootleg sets did this better, I'm a little put off. Mind you, just a little, since the music is an extension of Plugged Nickel, and as such sits right at the heart of great 20th century recordings.
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on April 5, 2013
One of the greatest bands in music play with an incendiary clairvoyance that will have you wishing you were there. Tony Williams and Herbie Handcock alone had me in awe, but the amazing Wayne Shorter and a perfect Ron Carter play loose and fast and cement Miles Davis' reputation as the best band leader of his generation. A must have for modern jazz lovers.
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on November 18, 2011
It's a cliche to say "it doesn't get any better than this" but nothing less can be said about this set. A great band recorded after they had been playing together for four years... four years of listening, interacting and creating together and it all is brought forth on these recordings. The music is intense, timely, modern and awesomely creative and immediate. It boggles the mind to think that these recording were made over 40 years ago. I love jazz and go to many live performances. It's sad to think that the high water mark for this music may have been hit in 1967 but these recordings present a strong case that it was. This is absolutely wonderful music.
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on February 28, 2014
I am 80 years old and never get tired listening to the legends. I saw Miles many times and at many different clubs while I was living in New York city. I can not add to much more to what I have said for many years. A great legend.
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on August 17, 2012
CD + DVD of early 60's European tour with the best Quintet ever. This is another must have piece for any jazz collection. DVD is dynamite. Like many recordings from this era of both Coltrane + Davis, it's not unusual for some of the playing to sound rough or a little off key. In a way this is the beauty of these recordings because playing music is not a perfect thing. This is not smooth jazz or Kenny G wallpaper sound. A piece of history. Buy it.
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