These historic sessions, recorded between 1969 and 1970 and originally released as a 90-minute double LP, merged jazz and rock into the hybrid genre known as fusion. They remain Miles Davis's most controversial recordings. Davis, along with pianists Herbie Hancock
, Chick Corea
, and Joe Zawinul
; bassist Dave Holland
; soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter
; bass clarinetist Benny Maupin; drummers Jack DeJohnette
, Billy Cobham
, and Lenny White
; and percussionist Airto Moreira
, went electric with rock rhythms, and the rest, as they say, is history, or as some feel, the end of jazz history.
Now, all of the sessions' 265 minutes are contained on this four-CD set, compiled from alternate takes, nine unreleased tracks, and selections from previously released LPs. The superb remastering reveals the spectral power of Davis's amplified, muted, and open trumpet painting on a swirling harmonic canvas created by Hancock, Corea, and Zawinul, especially on Zawinul's impressionistic "Pharoah's Dance," Shorter's elliptical "Sanctuary," and Davis's rocking "John McLaughlin."
The previously unreleased tracks, including "Yaphet," "Corrado," "Tevere," "The Big Green Serpent," and Zawinul's "Double Image," contain some interesting East Indian motifs and inventive arrangements but will probably not change anyone's mind about this well-debated period of Miles Davis's career. --Eugene Holley Jr.