Disc Review: Miles Davis, Legendary 1960 European Tour

Posted on by Mike Quinn

Miles Davis:
Legendary 1960 European Tour;
Label: Jazz Pilot

MIles Davis: The Legendary 1960 European Tour

On the eve of the release of Sony Legacy’s Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series, Volume One, it seems fitting to mention a recent release of Miles’ previous kick-ass Quintet’s last European tour. Of course we are referring to the Legendary 1960 European Tour which featured, in addition to Miles and ‘Trane, drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianist Wynton Kelly, and monster bassist Paul Chambers. Ironically, these recordings are true bootlegs not approved by Sony or Miles’ estate, so get ‘em while you can.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: the sound of these discs is mediocre at best, downright poor on a few cuts. But, the music played by this phenomenal aggregation more than makes up for the sonic shortcomings. This tour was Coltrane’s last hurrah with Miles, his transformation into to a status-quo-shattering jazz icon was nearly complete as evidenced by his powerful, extended solos on these sides. Compared to the much more timid versions of mid-50s recordings of such tunes as “Walkin’”, “So What”, “If I Were a Bell”, and “On Green Dolphin Street”, among others, Coltrane’s bold explorations on this collection seem absolutely revolutionary—which, of course, they were at the time.

As has been pointed out in previews of the newer quintet’s 1967 European box, Miles’ groups, landmark as they were in the studio, always surpassed their recorded legacy when unleashed on the bandstand and the 1960 version of his band is no exception. To steal an adjective from the title of one of the group’s classic Prestige records, they are COOKIN’!

If you are a Miles fan and don’t mind sound that is not pristine, then these sides are a must, offering as they do, an extended glimpse of one of jazz history’s finest performing ensembles. Miles’ solos are scorching, ‘Tranes are revelatory and the band is a finely tuned machine. For just over twenty bucks you get three generous CDs of classic musical ecstasy, an investment you are not likely to regret, and a far better return than you’ll get at the bank these days!  Recommended.

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