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Setlist: The Very Best of Miles Davis (Live)

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Album Review

Setlist is a new series by the Sony Legacy imprint to showcase live sides by artists in their catalog. In looking at the track listing and time period of the Miles Davis volume, it also seems like they were going with a series of cuts that highlighted only some of the many changes Davis either initiated in jazz or went through as an artist while at the label. Produced for release by Steve Berkowitz, the comp begins, as it rightfully should, with "Straight No Chaser/The Theme," from the Jazz at the Plaza album, whose recordings took place in 1958, though they weren't released until 1973. The band at the time was a sextet featuring Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Cannonball Adderley. It's followed a quintet — minus Adderley — reading of "Bye Bye Blackbird" from the same year, taken off Miles and Monk Live at Newport. There are two tracks from In Person: Friday & Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete, with a quintet that features Hank Mobley and Wynton Kelly from 1961. The early version of the second great quintet is heard on "Milestones," off Miles Davis in Europe from 1964, and includes Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, with George Coleman on tenor, and "My Funny Valentine" with Sam Rivers instead of Coleman off Heard 'Round the World; this is included though Davis' displeasure with Rivers in this band is well known. The final two cuts — "So What" and "All Blues" — complete the second great quintet with Wayne Shorter; the former is from Heard 'Round the World, recorded in 1964, and the latter is off Live at the Plugged Nickel, cut in 1965. This compilation doesn't include any of Davis' performances with his later, electric bands, making this a "Best of Miles Davis Live: Acoustic."

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Born: May 26, 1926 in Alton, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the...
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