Miles Davis Quintet: Link Between Be-bop And '70s Music

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

The years between 1965 and 1968 were years of musical expansion for the restless musical soul of trumpeter Miles Davis. Tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter had just joined the group, which already had a powerhouse rhythm section of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams. Davis had become tired of the technical and emotional limitations of be-bop and looked to change and expand his repertoire.

On the six-CD package Miles Davis Quintet 1965-68 (Columbia), he discards anything that could inhibit an unencumbered, free-flowing sound. Changing meters became almost a trademark.

The group's first recording, "E.S.P.," done in January 1965, set the tone for the next three years. Together these excellent musicians created a style anchored in flexibility and ever-changing improvisation of original material.

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This high level of creativity was the hallmark of the band in the studio. Its live performances were different and were dominated by standard tunes. Therefore, this set shows Davis and his crew of legends at a pinnacle of their creativity.

One of the classic tunes included is "Footprints." Davis and Hancock get into a call-and-response mode, with Hancock lightly chording behind Davis. Next, Shorter engages Carter in a similar exchange.

All the music from the quintet's five seminal albums, "E.S.P.," "Miles Smiles," "Sorcerer," "Nefertiti," "Miles in the Sky," plus material from "Filles De Kilimanjaro" and "Water Babies," is here. This is 440 minutes of music, 56 tracks, 13 of which have never been issued before.

Davis and his colleagues were the major driving force moving jazz from the era of be-bop to 1970s music, a path that leads directly to today.

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