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Lifelong Miles Davis fans will love 'Freedom Jazz Dance'


Miles Davis Quintet, "Freedom Jazz Dance" The Bootleg Series Vol. 5" (Columbia/Legacy, three discs).

You have to hear this three disc set in two entirely different ways, depending on your experience with Miles Davis' life and music.

For deeply committed lifelong students of Miles Davis' music, history and personality, it's absolutely essential --long "session reels" by Miles and his "second great quintet" heard for the first time as they learn, discuss and hammer great music together on some of his greatest records. Buffalo listeners who remember Miles' treatment of substitute bassist Cecil McBee during a gig at Buffalo's Royal Arms Club (Ron Carter was ill)  will get a chill hearing Miles, in his inimitable rasp, asking Wayne Shorter "Hey Wayne, Wayne. Where are we going to get a bass player?"

You'll hear a succession of jokes and obscenities and fascinating moments, including Miles' occasional dependence on saxophonist Shorter as almost a co-leader. This is the Miles period of "Miles Smiles" and "Nefertiti" and "Sorcerer" and "Miles in the Sky" and it's fascinating to hear these performances constructed in the studio. Heard another way, though, by those not-so-steeped in Miles' life and works, it is a must to avoid.

This is a great jazz band -- Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams. But what they're doing is a world away from the finished discs they put out in Miles' lifetime. For the sake of your blood pressure and peace of mind, you don't even want to think about what a testy and heroically profane Miles Davis would have said upon learning that so much revealing and completely unfinished music was being released in his name.

This is for lifelong professionals in the field of Miles Studies. All others beware.

2 1/2 stars out of four


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