So, Wayne Shorter remembers how he’d step up to the mic and the rhythm section — that’s Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums — would mostly or even almost wholly drop out, leaving him hanging, as we say today. And that was partially provocation — “Can you do it?” And partly its opposite — “We trust you to do it. We wouldn’t leave you hanging, if we didn’t know you could swing.” And so the five men caper across the then-mid-Miles catalog, waving cursorily at head melodies, Williams’s bottomless all-of-six-piece set collapsing time into half time, afterburning half time into double time, roaring like a logic storm presented with the problem of a farmhouse.
Shorter blows just a little more lyrical than most beboppers, dovetailing with Miles for some brief impeccable exchanges, horses cooling off before the next rodeo run. Miles tries simple, fancy, loud, soft, cool, and more-space-than-sound, and the rhythm usually sticks closer to him (he’s also, as the DVD of two TV broadcasts reveals, the only one not obliged to wear black tie).
Carter suffers undermiking, though try the first two discs for sweet solos; picking him out and stitching him into the action makes for a fascinating weekend with headphones. Herbie methodically makes sense, not the R&B sense of his earlier work, but the abstracted sense demanded by context. They weren’t giving the finger to the audience, and to expectations, so much as ignoring all that. Any finger pointed only onward.
- Album: Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1
- Artist: Miles Davis
- Label: Sony Legacy
- Songs: Disc 1: (1) Agitation (2) Footprints (3) Round Midnight (4) No Blues (5) Riot (6) On Green Dolphin Street (7) Masqualero (8) Gingerbread Boy (9) The Theme. Disc 2: (1) Agitation (2) Footprints (3) Round Midnight (4) No Blues (5) Masqualero (6) Agitation (7) Footprints. Disc 3: (1) Round Midnight (2) No Blues (3) Masqualero (4) I Fall In Love Too Easily (5) Riot (6) Walkin (7) On Green Dolphin Street (8) The Theme. DVD: (1) Agitation (2) Footprints (3) I Fall In Love Too Easilyv (4) Walkin (5) Gingerbread Boy (6) The Theme (7) Agitation, (8) Footprints (9) Round Midnight, (10) Gingerbread Boy (11) The Theme