Miles DAVIS – Miles in Tokyo, Live 1964

Miles DAVIS – Miles in Tokyo, Live 1964
Recorded at Kohseinenkin Hall,
Tokyo, Japan (07/14/1964)
2004 Issue.


Miles Davis’s most successful groups, his first great quintet with John Coltrane, for example, and his mid-1960s outfit with saxophonist Wayne Shorter are well known, but the ensembles in-between are also notable. On this 1964 concert, recorded …    Full Descriptionin Tokyo, Japan, Miles was already working with the rhythm section he would maintain until 1970, drummer Tony Williams, bassist Ron Carter, and pianist Herbie Hancock. The saxophonist, remarkably enough, is subsequent avant-garde legend Sam Rivers.

Rivers is a unique and under-appreciated player not bound by stylistic constraints; he plays with great verve, humor, and invention. Though Rivers seems a bit out of place on this set of mostly standards (which includes “My Funny Valentine” and “All of You”), it is interesting to hear how his sound changes the group, pushing it toward more flexible rhythmic and harmonic structures. “So What,” for example, grows to skittering near-cacophony, with a series of complex solos. Hancock’s blinding right hand and the propulsive rhythms of Carter and Williams also drive Davis to some of the edgiest playing of his career at that point. MILES IN TOKYO is a fascinating document of Davis in transition, but is also worth picking up for the chance to hear Rivers in such unique company.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Cd Universe.
Recorded in ’64, Miles in Tokyo finds the iconic Miles Davis performing with his almost-second great quintet. Tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, a more accomplished and daring experimentalist than his predecessor, George Coleman, joined the group after a fellow Bostonian, drummer Tony Williams, recommended him to Davis. There are times on this recording when one might understand why Davis and Rivers never meshed, and times when the partnership is quite wonderful, though brief.

n “If I Were a Bell”, for example, after a lucid and melodic statement by Davis, Rivers purposely goes off- center on his solo. He does it with enough force that his motions are neither subtle nor nuanced; they’re noticeable. Yet on the more forlorn and dark “My Funny Valentine”, he shows greater care to stay within the song’s melody, a treatment that resonates well with the rest of the group.
“So What” is taken at a faster pace than the version on the seminal Kind of Blue with, again, Davis and Rivers varying in their melodic approaches. By “Walkin”, though, it is Davis who alters his style, accepting some restless elements into his approach. He flies fast and furiously through his solo, provoking Williams into some manic beats. Williams, for his part, always sounded best in contexts that were more “out” than “in”, and the inclusion of Rivers on this date certainly allowed him greater, rhythmic latitudes. Herbie Hancock, as well, finds some dissonant and interesting moments on “Walkin'”. The finale, “All of You”, finds Davis muted and lyrical, Rivers wild but compliant, and the rest of the group providing a wonderful groove.
Months after this concert in September of ’64, the definitive version of the second great quintet, with Wayne Shorter on tenor, finally took form. The almost-second great quintet heard on Miles in Tokyo is an aberration, a rare gem, and worth investigating.
When we talk about the music of Miles Davis, there were many epiphanies that his music had. One was expressed in the album Birth of the Cool, where he broke away form a sound similar to Dizzy Gillespie to start his own distinct tone. The second major epiphany came about with first great quintet. With Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones and John Coltrane, Miles was able to extend his themes and developments into longer solos and also stretch the inert abilities of each piece they played. The third epiphany is expressed here on this album, Miles In Tokyo.

Well, George Coleman’s time to leave the band came. So, with amounted to a promissory note for Wayne Shorter from Art Blakey, Miles need a tenorist yesterday. Sam Rivers, newcomer to the scene, was selected and to Tokyo the band. Here, available in an American pressing for the first time ever, is the concert date at Kohseinerkin Hall on July 14, 1964.

The sound was different here than any other date Miles did.

The sound is the question, right? Well, if you listen to My Funny Valentine, Live At Plugged Nickel, Seven Steps To Heaven, or Live in Berlin; you know the sound of the early quintet. They are developmental, experimental, polyrhythmic, fluid and (the difference in the early performances) conservative. Everyone, including Miles, is using the musicality of space to enhance his motifs and thematic material. Herbie is, as always, turning the melody into a song length harmonic experiment. Ron Carter is following behind the group with some early elements that would become know as `funky’. `Ant’ Williams (R.I.P.) makes the whole song his solo. Tony always had a way of developing his approach to the tempo through the entire piece.

One final note is the presence of Sam Rivers. Well, if you have any of his early works (Fuchsia, Fuchsia Swing; Countors, Inventions and Dimensions, Trio Live) then you already know what to expect. His playing is punchy, dynamic, employing much staccato and almost paying to attention no any time restrictions.

Any fans of the second quintet or Sam Rivers will love this album. Also, give a hard listen to the album Countors (Freddie Hubbard, Sam Rivers (lead), Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams).

Not for the novice, this is jazz as only Miles can do it.
By Marty Nickison II.
Ron Carter- Bass
Miles Davis- Trumpet
Herbie Hancock- Piano
Sam Rivers Sax- Tenor
Tony Williams- Drums
01. Introduction by Teruo Isono (1:10)
02. If I Were A Bell (10:17)
03. My Funny Valentine (12:50)
04. So What (8:05)
05. Walkin’ (9:15)
06. All Of You (11:18)
07. Go-Go (Theme and Announcement) (1:20)

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