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Miles Davis Quintet - Newport 1967 - Concert Vault


Concert Vault

Miles Davis - Trumpet; Tony Williams - Drums; Ron Carter - Bass; Wayne Shorter - Tenor Sax; Herbie Hancock - Piano

By the time of Miles Davis' appearance at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival, he had settled into a near-telepathic groove with his second great quintet consisting of pianist Herbie Hancock, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams. This envelope-pushing ensemble had been in place since January of 1965. Through two and a half years of touring and recording, they had forged a rare, unprecedented chemistry on the bandstand where elements of free jazz playing were gradually introduced into their adventurous hard bop (primarily due to the uncanny listening and intuitive nature of all the individuals on the bandstand). That stretching esthetic was first successfully documented on the legendary Live at the Plugged Nickel, which captured Miles and his young, energetic sideman in high gear on a Chicago engagement from December 22-23, 1965. By the time of this July 2, 1967 Newport appearance, they were performing magic together on the bandstand (which can also be heard on the recent 4-CD boxed set, Live in Europe 1967 from October of that year).

The gradual transition to jazz-rock began in 1968 with Filles de Kilimanjaro (his first recording to employ electric piano) and continued with 1969's In A Silent Way (with John McLaughlin on electric guitar and Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea on electric keyboards). The transition was complete with the release of 1970's Bitches Brew, a full-blown fusion manifesto. Davis' tumultuous electric phase continued through the '70s with several groundbreaking releases that combined searing rock firepower and jazz improvisation, including Live-Evil, On The Corner, Big Fun, Get Up With It and Dark Magus. Following his volatile live releases Agharta and Pangaea in 1975, Davis went into retirement, only to return with a new band and a new concept in 1980, leading to such potent Columbia offerings as The Man With The Horn, We Want Miles, Decoy and You're Under Arrest.

Switching to the Warner Bros. label in 1986, Davis released two powerful outings produced by bassist Marcus Miller, Tutu and Amandla. While experiencing frequent lineup changes through the '80s, Miles continued to tour relentlessly with his dynamic band up until his final days. On July 8, 1991, he surprised the world by joining an orchestra conducted by Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival in performances of his old Sketches of Spain/Miles Ahead/Porgy & Bess material he had done in the late '50s with Gil Evans. It was a rare occasion indeed - the only time that Miles ever looked back rather than forward. He died of pneumonia, respiratory failure, and a stroke within months, on September 28, 1991. Davis' last recording, Doo-Bop, a collaboration with rapper Easy Mo Bee, was released posthumously in 1992. (Bill Milkowski)

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