Davis, Miles featuring John Coltrane - All Of You: The Last Tour 1960 : 4 x CD box set
"He's so tied up in his music that even his friends don't understand what he's trying to do." Miles Davis on Coltrane.
"Bottom line--this is a great set of Davis' quintet with Coltrane-tenor sax, Wynton Kelly-piano, Jimmy Cobb-drums, and Paul Chambers-bass. The sound for the most part is good/very good--though not audiophile quality. The sources used for this box set are from radio broadcast tapes with the exception of the March 30th concert in Frankfurt which is from an audience tape. Also the bass is low in the mix for many of these tracks but can be heard better on some tracks as opposed to others. Most (if not all) these tapes have been around for years (the box set "Miles Davis With John Coltrane and Sonny Stitt 1960" on the Dragon label has the first few on this Disc 1), but overall this set collects a lot of the best gigs and tunes in pretty decent sound from that tour. The poorest sound is from March 30th in Frankfurt. Some tunes from that gig aren't complete--the tape fades out before the end of the tune. Plus Kelly's piano solos on "So What" on April 3rd , first and second house (sets) wasn't picked up by the mic's. It's discernible from other mics on stage. But that's a fairly minor concern with so much other great music here.
The packaging too is nicely done--a thick, lidded cardboard outer box with a list of the tracks, concerts and dates, cardboard sleeves that have concert details on the back and a different photo on the front. The 34 page booklet has a long essay on Davis and the music and some nice period photos. Plus, there's a short synopsis of each concert that's helpful.
But the music--this is the classic sound of one of Davis' most important groups. All the music is from 1960, from gigs in Sweden, Denmark, West Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. Disc 1 also has a short interview with Coltrane in Sweden (also not new) with Coltrane talking about his style and how it fits with Davis' style, Throughout these sets you can hear Coltrane straining against Davis' more conventional playing, and that's where the real excitement begins. Coltrane was expanding his sound and just beginning to play outside conventional jazz patterns, and would leave Davis' group after this.
But everyone was playing at a very high level--Kelly's piano sparkles with his intelligent, bluesy playing. It's apparent that he was listening very closely to the other band members. And the rhythm section--both Cobb (who both propels and lays out subtle flourishes) and Chambers (hear his bass solo on "On Green Dolphin Street" from March 24th) really set the scene for the soloists--their playing is empathetic and alive. Davis' solos are beautifully played and unwind in that seemingly just the right way he had of playing. And Coltrane solos with wonder and excitement. Listen to "Walkin'" from the second house set in Stockholm, March 22nd, and you'll hear him begin to pull away from Davis. Hearing both Davis and Coltrane out front across these sets is pretty awesome. It's a combination of Davis "older" style and Coltrane, who was looking somewhere more "modern".
It's interesting that Davis originally wanted Sonny Rollins on tenor (he said no), then Cannonball Adderley (he also said no), and then he tried out John Gilmore (too fierce and free for Davis), and then hired Coltrane. Davis has said that sometimes he didn't know what Coltrane was playing on stage, but he knew it was something great ("some bad s##t") and that it was something new and different. And that's what you'll hear across these sets."-Stewart Jefferson