miles davis live in poland 1983

musical gem unearthed

this concert gives one a chance to catch davis' live 80s material before a diversion that included more pop tunes. davis strong playing indicated a measure of increased health, possibly due relationship with cicely tyson who may have influenced a healthier lifestyle. the band is bill evans , john scofield, darryl jones, al foster , minu cinelu and bobby irving. the centerpiece of this set are three tracks that return davis to the blues. it has been said that if one wanted to be in davis' touring bands, they had better be able to defend themselves, musically, on a blues track. the melodies from "star people", "it gets better" and "thats right" stay in your head, long after being heard. the set features excellent live versions of "speak", "hopscotch" and "star on cicely" with davis conducting the band from behind a bank of keyboards that he often played simultaneously with his trumpet.
the magnificent runs he plays on the horn would not be heard nearly as often afterwards as the band changed directions to more straight up funk and pop tune covers. one wonders what brought on this change of direction. could it have been caused by friction that developed with columbia records over publishing royalties or was it simply davis' habit to become bored with a band that he has taken to their highest pinnacle of musical acheivement, causing him to look for a different sound. i dont know but believe these are questions worthy of further exploration

2 Comments

  • Nov 07, 2011 at 11:27PM robert jones

    would welcome further comments on this set , as it stands apart from any other live material i have heard from the 80,s bands. i found this on amazon.com in both dvd, and cd

  • Feb 25, 2013 at 06:26PM Blaise Algar

    As a long-time fan of Miles' 80's era, and as someone whose introduction to the canon of Miles Davis' playing was in the material he created and released in the 80's, I was delighted to uncover this live concert recording for several reasons. One major reason was that this particular line-up, with Daryl Jones and Al Foster comprising the rhythym section and John Scofield and Bill Evans on guitar and sax was just about my favourite all-time Miles Davis line-up, and that includes the classic quintets of the 50's and 60's; and I know how much of a bold statement that is. I love the mid-fifties quintets' work, don't get me wrong: 'Relaxin'' is possibly the single album I have most listened to over the past four years, and albums from the sixties like 'Nefertiti' and 'Four and More' hit a mood and a creative peak that is hard to match, but something of the combination of Daryls' funky, electric bass and Foster's crisp, attacking style of snare playing really hit it off for me. I also had the priviledge of seeing Miles live twice during the eighties, once in 1986 at the Wembley Conference Centre, and also at the Apollo, Hammersmith in 1989, both in London (where I live). The 1986 gig was I think possibly exactly the same line-up as this Poland gig of three years earlier, as it was just before the liason with Marcus Miller coalesced. I found this disc in HMV Oxford street, and was delighted to find the line up I remembered from the album I bought on the day of it's release in 1985, 'You're Under Arrest;' which cemented my love of the funky, pop-soulful electric Miles. 'Tutu' was a work of Genius, no doubt ( a bit of a misleading description, surely, because if Miles isn't a genius, who is, so everything he does is a work of suchlike, by definition?); but also a near Duo in the creation, seeing as no-one else except Miles ands Marcus had a say in the making of it. But You're Under Arrest ( and by extension, the 1983 Poland live recording with the same group) was a team endeavour in the modern idiom of sythesizers and amplification, that admittedly, had been Miles' realm since his 'come-back' in 1981, with 'We Want Miles,' and the Later Release 'Live Round The World', also from the same year; but had the near perfect blend of drum and bass in telepathy that marked out Jones and Foster as ones to listen out for. The title track on 'You're Under Arrest shows what I mean well with this. Miles plays licks which are then picked up on in the bass before Miles has even finished playing the with such perfect dove-tailing you wonder it's not written out. Going back to 'Live In Poland, 1983, it's an earlier, raw take on this symmetry, still fleshing out the construct and cutting blocks of sound out of the materials they were playing, making best use of Miles' evident (as Robert Jones correctly points out) was undoubtably Miles stronger chops. Since 'You're Under Arrest was two whole years off in the making at this time it was recorded, the album most reflected in the 1983 set was the classic 80's Miles cut, 'Star People'. Blues like' It Get's Better, and The utterly funky (and personal favourite of mine) 'Speak' describe well Miles' musical thinking at the time, and Bill Evans displays a maturity beyond his years meshing well with Scofield's guitar. Mino Cinelu brings an exciting power to the sound, although by some accounts Miles found his showboating something of a pain in the ass. Sounds good to me, though, whatever the ladies thought. And Robert Irving surely has to be one of the best synth players and songwriters from that period, having written the tribute song and album title track,'The Man With The Horn'. Check this album out, in short, anyone who likes good, funky, music, that at the same time pushes the boundaries of where such labels as 'pop' and 'jazz' were at the time, and try to see how compared with where everyone else was at the time, how much further ahead it was.

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