September 24, 2011

Playlist Week of 9-24-11

Miles Davis - Bootleg Series Volume 1

* Francisco Javier 1506-1553: La Ruta de Oriente (Hesperion XXI/Savall) (Alia Vox 2SACD)
* Mahler: Symphony No.4 (Chicago Symphony/Reiner) (RCA-Victor SACD)
* Miles Davis: Cookin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige/DCC CD)
* Miles Davis: Relaxin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige/DCC CD)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Tivoli Konsertsal, Copenhagen 3-24-60 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: unknown venue 1960 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Kongresshalle, Frankfurt 3-30-60 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Kongresshaus, Zurich 4-08-60 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Kurhaus, Scheveningen 4-09-60 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Newport Jazz Festival 1966-1967 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis Quintet: Harmon Gymnasium, UC Berkeley 4-07-67 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series Vol.1: Live In Europe 1967 (Columbia/Legacy 3CD+DVD)
* Miles Davis Quintet: De Doelen, Rotterdam 10-30-67 (FM CDR)
* John Coltrane: The Ultimate Blue Train (Blue Note CD)
* Sun Ra: What’s New? (side 2) (LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra: “I’m Gonna Unmask The Batman” (unreleased single) (MP3>CDR)
* Sun Ra: The “New” Five Spot, New York, NY 6-11-75 (AUD(?) CDR)
* Sun Ra: Rehearsal, September 1976 (CDR)
* Anthony Braxton & Gerry Hemingway: Old Dogs (2007) (d.4) (Mode/Avant 4CD)
* Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker: Beyond Quantum (Tzadik CD)
* Bill Dixon: 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: Drawn Inward (ECM CD)†
* Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Eleventh Hour (ECM CD)†
* Steve Tibbetts: Big Map Idea (ECM CD)†
* Steve Tibbetts: The Fall Of Us All (ECM CD)†
* Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day (Geffen CD)†
* Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up (Nonesuch CD)†
* ProjeKct Three: Masque (DGM CD)†
* ProjeKcT Four: West Coast Live (DGM CD)†
* BPM&M: XtraKcts & ArtifaKcts (Papa Bear CD)
* David Torn/Mick Karn/Terry Bozzio: Polytown (CMP CD)†
* David Torn: Cloud About Mercury (ECM CD)†
* David Torn: Prezens (ECM CD)†
* Tony Levin/David Torn/Alan White: Levin Torn White (Lazy Bones CD) (†)
* The Beatles: Beatles For Sale (2009 mono) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Help! (2009 mono) (Apple/EMI CD)
* John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band (Apple/EMI Capitol CD)
* John Lennon: Imagine (Apple/EMI Capitol CD)
* John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: Some Time In New York City (d.1)(Apple/EMI/Capitol 2CD)
* John Lennon: Mind Games (Apple/EMI Capitol CD)
* John Lennon: Walls And Bridges (Apple/EMI Captol CD)
* Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (d.1-3) (Rhino 4CD)†/‡
* Grateful Dead: Europe ’72 (Warner Bros./Rhino 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Europe ’72 Vol.2 (GDP/Rhino 2CD)
* Santana: Lotus (CBS/Sony 3LP)
* Big Star: Keep An Eye On The Sky (d.3) (Ardent/Rhino 4CD)†/‡
* Cocteau Twins: Aikea-Guinea (Capitols CDEP)†
* Cocteau Twins: Sunburst And Snowblind (4AD/Capitol CDEP)
* Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador CD)†
* Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard (GBV, Inc. 2LP)
* A Perfect Circle: Mer De Noms (Virgin CD)†
* A Perfect Circle: Thirteenth Step (Virgin CD)†
* Radiohead: In Rainbows (TBD CD)†
* Radiohead: The King Of Limbs (TBD/XL CD)†



It took more than a decade for Sony to finally complete their series of CD box sets documenting Miles Davis’s 1955-1975 Columbia recordings and in the ensuing years there has been nothing but senseless re-packagings and deletions—in fact, those beautiful, metal-spined box sets are by now long out of print, once again leaving grievous gaps in the catalog (not to mention the overall neglect of his post-1980 “comeback” material). But things have recently started to look up for Miles fanatics: last year’s “Legacy Edition” of the landmark Bitches Brew album is truly deluxe, with decent re-mastering, a couple of unreleased tracks and a splendid live DVD from Copenhagen on November 4, 1969. Then in February, Bitches Brew Live was released and, despite its unimaginative title and hideous cover art, it is a most welcome addition to the discography: the previously unavailable recordings from the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival and the Isle of Wight in August, 1970 are revelatory.

This week brings The Bootleg Series Vol.1: Live In Europe 1967, a reasonably-priced three-CD plus DVD set collecting five radio and television broadcasts of the so-called “Second Great Quintet” at the height of their powers. Accompanied by the stellar lineup of Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums, Miles plays with a fiery, full-throated intensity—gone, for the most part, is muted balladry heard on The Complete Plugged Nickel 1965—and the band restlessly deconstructs the old repertoire with gleeful abandon while adding new, almost rock-ish compositions like “Agitation” and “Riot” into the mix. This group exploded the boundaries of small-group acoustic jazz, incorporating the innovations of avant-gardists like Ornette Coleman while never totally abandoning “the tradition” (that would come later, with the addition of electric instruments). And you can hear them taking the traditional format as far as possible, “heads” being secondary to extended flights of free improvisation, a continuous stream of music with obliquely rendered tunes dotting the landscape like a medley or suite. So, while the setlists appear repetitive, each performance is uniquely compelling. After nearly three years of working together, the quintet plays with an astonishing level of empathy and limitless creativity—seriously, “trad jazz” just doesn’t get any better than this.

In his (ineloquent but earthy) autobiography, Miles had this to say about the “Second Great Quintet”:

Every night Herbie, Tony, and Ron would sit around back in their hotel rooms, talking about what they had played until the morning came. Every night they would come back and play something different. And every night I would have to react. The music we did together changed every fucking night; if you heard it yesterday, it was different tonight. Man, it was something how the shit changed from night to night after awhile. Even we didn’t know where it was all going to. But we did know it was going somewhere else and that it was probably going to be hip, and that was enough to keep everyone excited while it lasted (quoted in Todd Coolman, The Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-’68 liner notes, p.46).

In fact, the “Second Quintet” would not last much longer: by the end of 1967, the band would be experimenting with proto-jazz/rock fusion in the recording studio while pushing acoustic jazz as far as it could go on the bandstand. Watching the DVD included in The Bootleg Series Vol.1, you can see quite clearly that no matter how “out there” his band went, Miles was always in complete control—and he was visibly moving in a new direction. The times were indeed a-changin’ during these tumultuous years and Miles would respond with groundbreaking records, In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew in 1968 and 1969. Things would never be the same—in neither the insular world of jazz nor the volatile culture at large—and Miles would remain at music’s cutting edge until his “retirement” in 1975. These live recordings from 1967 vividly document the end of an era—and the delicate transition to a new one.

Collectors have traded off-the-air recordings from this European tour for years but The Bootleg Series Vol.1 presents fresh transfers from the original station reels, resulting in spectacularly good (albeit monophonic) sound. Moreover, the Copenhagen set from November 2, 1967 has never before circulated and the November 6 Paris concert is presented here complete and unedited. And, of course, the DVD is a real treat, containing performances from Stockholm on October 31 and Karslruhe on November 7 in excellent quality. It’s fascinating to watch the band’s telepathic, non-verbal communications: pointed glances, nearly invisible gestures and tossed-off musical cues. Sure, The Bootleg Series Vol.1 could have easily been expanded to include known recordings from Helsinki, Rotterdam and Berlin, but who’s complaining? Sony has done a top-notch job with this release and I’m looking forward to further volumes in the series—as you can see above, there are plenty more “bootlegs” out there worthy of this kind of treatment. Most highly recommended!


Sharp-eyed readers have probably noticed what has NOT yet appeared on my playlists this month. Yep, that’s right: I’m STILL waiting for my Complete Europe ’72 box from This has been an absolute clusterf@ck ever since its announcement back in January, when the frenzy of pre-orders crashed their servers, resulting in a chaotic, confusing mess which left most customers (including me) wondering whether or not they had successfully purchased the limited-edition set. Well, they finally started shipping them out at the end of August and, after patiently waiting for a couple of weeks, I placed a call to 1-800-CAL-DEAD to enquire about the status of my order. Of course, the clueless customer service rep was unable to provide me with any concrete information but helpfully suggested I provide him with a street address since orders were being shipped via UPS. Reluctantly, I agreed. The next morning, I received an email telling me my order was being delayed since I had provided a Post Office Box address and to please reply with a street address as soon as possible or my order would be canceled. WTF? I duly replied and waited another week; still nothing. I called again and was told the warehouse was “awaiting product” and my order would be shipped soon. Fine. On September 20, I received an email informing me my box was being shipped—to my P.O. Box! Huh? Even though I was provided with a tracking number, the U.S. Postal Service still says they have “no record of this item” a full four days later. At this point, I’m wondering if I will ever receive it! In the meantime, I picked up Europe ’72 Vol.2, a two-disc compilation which was released to retail outlets last week. I figure something is better than nothing—and the hour-long “Dark Star>The Other One” is easily worth the cost of admission—but I’m still left with a bad taste in my mouth about this whole ordeal. And to add insult to injury, they just announced that all twenty-two shows will be released individually at the end of the year—so much for “limited edition.” I’m glad to see the posthumous Dead have an unexpected hit on their hands, but for $450 + shipping, I expected better service than what I’ve received so far. We’ll see what happens next.


In a happier tale of good customer service, Monster Cable honored their unconditional lifetime warranty on my Turbine Pro Copper earbuds after the left channel suddenly stopped working. They happily exchanged them for a brand new pair with no questions asked! While it took about a month door-to-door, I was impressed how smoothly the process worked. Now, after a couple of weeks of heavy use at the office, the replacements are starting to break in nicely and sound great. I’m also trying to handle them with even greater care—I don’t want to have to do this again. Regardless, it’s nice to know Monster will stand behind their product and their warranty is not just a clever “legal fiction.” Kudos, Monster Cable!


Sam said...

Sorry to hear about your 72 Europe woes! Hope that all gets straightened out. The Miles set sounds awesome. Their PR is misleading in that 1967-11-02 Copenhagen has indeed circulated...I've had it for years. At any rate, this set is number 1 on my want list!

Here's my lists for last week:

Playlist 2011-09-26:

*Anthony Braxton: Composition, Improvisation, Synthesis: Selections from the Tri-Centric Foundation Archives
*Ornette Coleman & Prime Time: 1978-07-24 Nervi, Italy (CDR)
*Billie Holiday: Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933–1944 (discs 8-10)
*Charles Mingus: Jazz Composers Workshop
*Sun Ra: 1975-06-11 Five Spot, NYC (CDR)
*Lily Allen: Alright, Still
*Beatles: With the Beatles Studio Sessions: Back to Basics disc 1 (boot CDR)
*Beatles: A Hard Day's Night Studio Sessions: Back to Basics Vol. 2 disc 1 (boot CDR)
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Live at the El Mocambo
*The Curtains: Vehicles of Travel
*The Curtains: Calamity
*Fela: Koola Lobitos 1964-1968/The '69 L.A. Sessions
*Grateful Dead: 1971-10-19 Minneapolis (CDR)
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-02 Springfield, MA (CDR)
*High Llamas: Talahomi Way
*National Health: National Health
*Rolling Stones: Some Girls Sessions (Compilation) (CDR) disc 1
*Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (selections)
*Phil Spector: Back to Mono (1958-1969)

Reading List 2011-09-26:

*Furst, Alan. Spies of the Balkans (started)
*The Horror! The Horror! ed. Jim Trombetta (finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 2 (in progress)
*Benedict, Elizabeth. The Joy of Writing Sex (in progress)
*Bradbury, Ray: Bradbury Stories (in progress)
*Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994 (selected readings)
*Lambert, Philip. Inside the Music of Brian Wilson (in progress)

C said...

I'm having the same problems with my E72 box as well. I was one of the very first to order it (one of the few times my insomnia has been a positive!
Damned customer service tells me it was shipped but they don't have a tracking number and to call UPS and ask them where it is?!?! Lame A$$ response, eh? UPS needs a tracking number to track it.
I still have my doubts it was shipped, but it has been on some UPS truck for the last week. Maybe tomorrow....

Rodger Coleman said...

@ Sam -- you have the Copenhagen set? Huh. I don't. You'll LOVE the Bootleg Series Vol.1!

@C -- Sorry to hear about your problems with the Europe '72 box. I guess we're not alone. Today I got a "postage due" notice in my mailbox. Could it be that shipped it UPS and now USPS wants their fee to deliver to my PO Box? At this point, it could be just that f'd up. We'll see...

C said...

Did you have dreaded DN order number? I did, plus a credit card change, mailing address change and at least a dozen phone calls to them. I've never had a bad experince with before and I've got all the official releases that were exclusives or had bonus discs from them since the first Dick's Picks came out. Of course it had to be my order of this most anticipated set they had to f*ck up.
Best to you. I hope you get yours. I'm sure mine will be here tomorrow. I've only been saying that for the past month.

Rodger Coleman said...

@C: Hi, Carville! I thought that might be you! ;) No, I do not have a DN order # -- The servers had crashed and burned and by the time I tries to get through, I was forced to ask to be emailed when I could actually place an order. What a mess. Oh, and the postage due notice was for an out-of print David Torn CD I ordered on Amazon still no box. I called again today and was informed that since it was shipped "standard mail" the tracking number would be useless. Great. Like you, I have ordered every offical release and had no problems. And you're right, this is THE most anticipated release of ALL TIME. Figures they'd f' it up. I hope BOTH OF US get what we ordered! That doesn't seem like too much to ask.

C said...

Oh yeah, I called today and got tracking numbers (2 boxes, one for me, one for my brother) and of course they don't work!! Standard mail (read parcel post). I am so freaking tired of this mess. I know, neither of us have anything else to listen to in the meantime, right? But is that really the point?
I actually have a friend that works at my PO. I'll have him try to track tomorrow as he can see things us mere customers can't. Good luck!

Rodger Coleman said...

@C: At this point, I'm so frustrated and angry I don't even WANT to listen to the Dead. Th new Pink Floyd remasters sound great, for whatever that is worth! :)

C said...

So it seems I'm now compelled to call customer service everyday. Today I was told that the tracking numbers I was given are not trackable at all. The parcels were sent regular mail without tracking and might take up to 12 business days.
The customer service on this one has been just terrible. Rodger, maybe our parcels are on some truck together getting a tour of the US cause they sure as hell aren't here yet!

Rodger Coleman said...

No box here today either--also no charge on my credit card and no record of my order when I log into At this point, I figure I'm not going to receive it at all. I've heard stories of people who were shut out of the original pre-order who are getting boxes already due to "failed or canceled orders." Absolutely the WORST customer service experience I've ever had.

Remember how smoothly GD ticket sales was run? Those were the days...

C said...

Mine came today. To the post office box, not my street address which I had to give them on at least 3 separate occasions. Yet they still mailed it to the address which was on my original order back in January!
I hope yours is on your step when you get home today. Haven't opened it yet, I will later today.
What a long drawn out affair this has been.

Rodger Coleman said...

@C: Glad to hear it! Still no box for me. I think it might take even longer for snails to crawl all the way to Tennessee. Maybe tomorrow...or the next day....