Miles Davis – The Unissued Japanese Concerts Miles Davis – The Unissued Japanese Concerts

Miles Davis - The Unissued Japanese Concerts

Miles Davis’ life has had numerous high points. Reading Davis’ biography will reveal numerous achievements separated by lower, less glamorous moments. Davis has had his hand in some of jazz’s greatest progressive leaps including Bebop, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz and Fusion. Davis opus’ Kind Of Blue and Bitches Brew were separated by more than a decade of varying success. In addition to leaps and bounds, Davis has also been the head to famous groups of musicians — including his first and second great quintet.

Davis’ first great quintet featured John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones as backing musicians. Later, the “second great quintet” would include Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wayne Shorter. The second great quintet was birthed on the album Miles in Berlin seeing Wayne Shorter completing the line-up. The second quintet members were quintessential in the development of the later jazz fusion phase. But I am not here to talk about fusion, nor the second quintet. Rather, I’m here tonight to discuss the events a few months before the formation of the second quintet. Before Shorter would join the group, Sam Rivers would play tenor saxophone for three live dates with the quintet before scattering to various other projects.

These three dates with Rivers took place in Japan with one concert officially released. Miles In Tokyo was released in 1969 archiving one night at Tokyo’s Kohseinenkin Hall. More than 40 years later, the two other shows on this Japanese tour are released. If you are still reading this review, it means that you are interested in unearthing a long forgotten piece of jazz history. The potential for greatness with the unissued concerts, however, is greater than the actual quality as this two disc album explains why not every concert is given a proper release. But to those of you still reading, it would come as a major disappointment if you traveled all this way for an average live jazz album. It would also be a terrible thing if you decided to give jazz a chance and breeze right into this review. Fear not.

For a jazz record, its The Unissued Japanese Concerts is spectacular as any record with Davis and Hancock more than makes up for its price. Sam River’s contribution to the over all sound adds a looseness which would soon be embraced fully with the start of fusion. The Japanese tour was more than a decent series of concerts. In fact, Miles in Tokyo ranks as one of the greater Davis live albums. The mid 60’s were a fertile time for Jazz as it was shifting from bebop and cool jazz to a free, post bop and eventually the deep end of fusion. The Unissued Japanese Concerts comes from an often overlooked period of Jazz and for completists, it fills in a small blank space in the shelf. It is a needless portrait into an interesting period of Jazz history.

One of the major problems for The Unissued Japanese Concerts is the quality of recording. Miles In Tokyo was beautifully recorded with full deep sound. I do not know the process of recording three days as the two unissued concerts come with a more bootleg and flat sound. There was little process in remastering the tapes along with a careless attitude regarding album art. Really? The vinyl record design? On the upside, the setlist for The Unissued Concerts overlaps only slightly with Miles In Tokyo. “Autumn Leaves,” “Stella By Starllight” and “Walkin Into The Theme” are just some of the newer renditions featured on this album. If you are a huge Sam Rivers fan and crave absolutely everything he has done with Miles Davis then The Unissued Japanese Concerts maybe for you. For the rest of us, stick to the classic live albums unless I give you the word.

CD1 Tokyo July 12th, 1964:
Autumn Leaves
So What
Stella by Starlight
Walkin’ into The Theme

CD2 Kyoto July 15th, 1964:
If I Were A Bell
Stella By Starlight
All Of You
Seven Steps to Heaven

Miles Davis - The Unissued Japanese Concerts, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2011-05-17T10:09:43-07:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

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