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Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5

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Miles Davis’ haunting rasp “Teo … play that … Teo … Teo … Teo … Teo … play that,” closing “Gingerbread Boy” on your worn-out vinyl copies of Miles Smiles, was only the tip of the iceberg. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of that second studio album from the Second Great Miles Quintet, Sony/Columbia/Legacy has released Freedom Jazz Dance as Volume 5 of their acclaimed Bootleg Series. It is a fascinating glimpse into the creative process of this legendary unit and especially its leader, as the three-CD set includes session reels (rehearsals, partial and alternate takes), remastered final takes and-most tantalizing-much in-studio banter. We experience the band shape and develop the six tunes from the original project, recorded in October 1966, as well as three compositions from later releases. Also included are an alternative “Masqualero,” from 1967’s Sorcerer (not the same as the one on 1998’s The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings); a rhythm-section-only reading of “Country Son,” from 1968’s Miles in the Sky; a precious homemade tape of Miles demonstrating an idea on piano for a visiting Wayne Shorter; and six seconds of Miles advising Tony Williams during the recording of a drum solo that would later be appended to “Agitation,” from 1965’s E.S.P.

Much time is spent on Ron Carter’s bassline for “Freedom Jazz Dance,” preceding an immediately aborted experiment with woodblocks (!?) from force-of-nature Williams. By take six, Miles has the lightbulb moment of stretching the form of the melody, suggesting, “Make it longer.” Davis then hits on the idea of Williams playing those definitive left-hand triplets, à la Elvin Jones, just before take 10, and soon after, the reimagining of this Eddie Harris favorite is finalized.

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