Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miles Davis And The Greatest Live Album Ever

Miles Davis Live In Stockholm 1960 (Dragon Records)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Jimmy Cobb (drums)
Paul Chambers (bass)
John Coltrane (sax; March 22, 1960)
Sonny Stitt (sax; October 13, 1960)

Live In Stockholm 1960 is an "unofficial/official" live album that has been released under various titles (Miles Davis in Stockholm Complete, ...with John Coltrane and Sonny Stitt in Stockholm Complete are usually the other widely seen titles). It can be found as a 4 disc or two separate 2 disc sets. The reason for this was that one concert recorded in March of 1960 included John Coltrane and a second concert in October 1960 featuring Sonny Stitt (both on saxophone). This tour took place just a few months after Miles recorded Kind Of Blue and during the time he would record Sketches of Spain.

Live In Stockholm 1960 is one of my favourite CDs of all time. Originally recorded for Swedish Radio it is of very high quality. The concert with Coltrane is fascinating on two levels. One, you can feel the pounding tension (in the best possible way) of two giants ripping through chords at breakneck speed. It's bop at its finest. Second, if you are lucky with the version you purchase there is an interview with John Coltrane between sets. Coltrane talks of what it is like to be in Miles's band, his admiration for fellow saxophonist Sonny Rollins and his own future plans. The Sonny Stitt date is a real pleasure; not just in comparing how these two saxophone players shape Miles' material but also how Stitt interacts with fellow band members, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and Wynton Kelly. Stitt was not as adventurous as Coltrane but he was just fierce on the sax, so the date becomes a wonderful companion piece as well as a historical document.

This may be a very difficult set to find and it can be pricey if you do manage to discover it, but I guarantee you Live In Stockholm 1960 is worth whatever you pay for it. I have enjoyed listening to this album (first on vinyl and then CD) for almost 20 years and it never stops sounding anything short of spectacular.

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