MILES DAVIS QUINTET; EUROPEAN TOUR 1967 (/Impro-Jazz/Southbound DVD)

 |   |  1 min read

MILES DAVIS QUINTET; EUROPEAN TOUR 1967 (/Impro-Jazz/Southbound DVD)

You might have thought in the decade since Ken Burns' groundbreaking television series Jazz that there would have been a slew of DVDs out there on the market to add depth to what he showcased. But there hasn't really been.

Back before jazz was an "art form" few concerts were filmed for posterity. Jazz, by definition, was in the present tense.

Which makes this one so interesting for jazz aficionados and neophyles alike: one of the great Miles Davis bands (this with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams) captured at two concerts in Europe in glorious and slightly fuzzy black'n'white.

This band was the epitome of cool -- so cool in fact that they don't even acknowledge the audiences when they walk onto the bare stages to huge applause. But they very quickly get down to their business.

They all look impossibly young (Davis was 41, pianist Hancock in his late 20s, saxophonist Shorter in his mid 30s) but they play as if they were inventing a new kind of music, grounded in a traditon, right there on the bandstand. As they were.

It is interesting to compare, for example, Shorter on Davis' Agitation in Stockholm -- where he hesitantly starts to peel away the melody -- to what happened a week later in Germany when he is brimming with confidence and follows Davis' lead into an energetic version of the same piece.

These concerts also bridged that gap between the past (the Sammy Cahn-Jule Styne ballad I Fall in Love Too Easily and Thelonious Monk's Around Midnight) with newer material.

And this, in many ways, was the last we would see of this kind of jazz from Miles. And indeed of Miles as jazz people understood him.

Within a couple of years -- these were the days of the Grateful Dead, Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix -- he had fully embraced electric guitars and keyboards, and funky fusion was just around, or actually, On the Corner.

Miles was there to create "the birth of the cool" and this, we might observe, was the last gasp of it.

Wonderful. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

SOUNDTRACKS: SONG THAT DEFINED HISTORY; BATTLE OF THE SEXES: A tele-doco series on Prime

SOUNDTRACKS: SONG THAT DEFINED HISTORY; BATTLE OF THE SEXES: A tele-doco series on Prime

Some years ago Elsewhere interviewed the American music writer and social historian Robert Gordon who, in passing about race in his country, said that his high school children didn't know which... > Read more

U23D CONCERT MOVIE: Even Better Than the Real Thing?

U23D CONCERT MOVIE: Even Better Than the Real Thing?

From where I hear it, the last couple of U2 albums have been a musical retreat from their innovative albums of the early 90s such as Achtung Baby and Zooropa, the only albums by them I have ever... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: Robin Campbell of UB40

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: Robin Campbell of UB40

What's in a name? Wel, if you were Pink Floyd co-founder/chief songwriter and singer Roger Waters a bit of litigation after you quit the band and found the rest were carrying on using the band's... > Read more

THE SIXTIES by ARTHUR MARWICK: The big picture of the isms and schsims

THE SIXTIES by ARTHUR MARWICK: The big picture of the isms and schsims

One of the more mindlessly amusing one-liners about the Sixties says that if you remember them t.hen you weren’t there. Duh. That sitcom aphorism reduces the decade to flakiness and... > Read more